No one wants to be Blockbuster at the launch of Netflix.
Our 59,000-square-foot headquarters in the heart of Vancouver is where much of the action at Fresh Direct Produce takes place almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the past five years, Fresh Direct Produce has nearly tripled its footprint to 152,000 square feet, expanded its workforce from 150 to 220 employees, and vastly increased produce offerings to 1,000 SKUs of globally sourced items.
To ensure it all runs efficiently, we've invested in state-of-the-art communications and inventory-control systems. This means we're always working with the most up-to-date information to serve our suppliers and customers.
Planning for the future inevitably means increasing automation and adopting even more digital technology. In the words of our president and co-founder, Davis Yung, “No one wants to be Blockbuster at the launch of Netflix. If we are doing the same thing in the same way in 10 to 15 years, it won’t be fun. We have to do something different in the next five years to give us room to navigate in the future.”
Even a banana performs better under a little pressure.
With climate-controlled coolers and our brand-new pressurized ripening rooms, we can adjust the rate at which fruit ripens—either retarding or accelerating the process as necessary. Because even a banana performs better under a little (but not too much) pressure.
This kind of control enables us to give our customers the freshest product available while ensuring that wasteful spoilage is minimized.
We currently have 14 ripening rooms amongst our three facilities. Not only can we ripen bananas, we can also ripen avocados, papayas, and mangoes to our customer’s desired specifications.
Inspection & Packaging
The days of opening up your mandarin box and finding a spoiled one in the bottom are over.
We carefully inspect and package our produce to ensure that it gets to our customers looking and tasting its best.
Packaging and wrapping have become increasingly important to retailers and consumers. Our facility on Kent Avenue in Vancouver is dedicated to repacking and grading produce. Here and in Calgary, double-bagging machines allow workers to empty produce boxes onto a conveyer belt to inspect and discard any items not up to par.
As the belt moves through the machine, the product emerges from the other side bagged in mesh and ready for distribution. “The days of opening up your mandarin box and finding a spoiled one in the bottom are over,” says Jozef Hubburmin. “A lot of customers want packaged product because the quality is better.”
Repackaging also allows Fresh Direct to add labels with information about the product and to differentiate organic from conventional produce.
We bring in five million cartons of produce a year and our turnover rate is just three to four days.
Time waits for no mango, meaning the perishable nature of fruits and vegetables makes for a very dynamic and fast-paced industry. We bring in five million cartons of produce a year and our turnover rate is just three to four days. Keeping that much product moving to the right places is a high-energy, time-sensitive operation.
We are open 365 days a year and orders come into our customer service desk almost 24/7. From Vancouver, we deliver to stores as far away as Whitehorse in the Yukon. Our Calgary location has yet to reach full capacity, but it has 18 truck bays, state-of-the-art ripening rooms and a new fleet of five-ton trucks -- all of which will allow Fresh Direct Produce to eventually expand its service area as far east as Winnipeg.
Our trucks service Vancouver Island six days a week. We also deliver regularly to the Okanagan and the Interior of B.C. In Alberta, we are constantly increasing the number of runs to Edmonton, Red Deer and the multitude of towns on route. More recently, we have established routes through Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.
And owning our own expanding fleet of trucks means we can continually add new customers along our existing routes.
Our service sets us apart from other companies that don’t have the infrastructure to deliver store to store.
With a philosophy that looks at vendors and retailers as an extension of our own business, Fresh Direct Produce emphasizes partnerships to promote market growth.
“We offer the advantage of a one-stop shop for our customers who can choose any mixture of our three main categories: conventional, organic, and exotic/ethnic,” says Albert Lum, our Director of Sales. “Our service sets us apart from other companies that don’t have the infrastructure to deliver store to store.”
On the vendor side, Fresh Direct takes a similar approach. We treat our suppliers as we do our customers, assisting overseas growers and shippers to enter the Canadian marketplace.
"Fresh Direct are aggressive. They’re trying to build and grow. They kind of get down and dirty and get in there. Some people just try to maintain relationships with certain customers, and I think they ‘re trying to build and get new customers and grow people. That’s important right now."
General Manager, Western Canada, Sunkist Growers
"Fresh Direct Produce introduced our Korean Mandarins to the Canadian market place and we thank them for the wonderful marketing campaigns, creative promotional support and commitment to grow sales volume year after year."
President, Jeju Citrus, South Korea.
"Fresh Direct has been our partner for close to 5 years. Since day one their staff has been easy to work with, they do what they say they are going to do, and they pay on time. Fresh Direct is good example of how businesses relationships should work."
J. Marchini Farms, Le Grand, CA