Johnson Farm is the biggest producer of organic fruit and vegetables in the U.S., but its production is suffering from declining sales.
Last year, the farm lost $1.8 million in profits and is on pace to lose $4.3 million in 2016, according to data compiled by the farm’s former CEO.
In addition, the company has faced a lawsuit from the American Farm Bureau Federation and other groups over its labeling policy.
“We’re a farm with a very diverse crop, and the biggest concern we had growing up was, ‘How do we sell a product if it’s not going to be good for me?'” said Johnson CEO Chris Johnston.
“But that’s what we’ve got now.”
The company has struggled to find new ways to keep its product from hurting the farm and consumers, as the number of organic products sold dropped.
“I’m not saying it’s a bad thing.
I’m just saying it took time for it to sink in,” Johnston said.
“What we need to do is create a market that’s good for the farmer, good for our customers, good enough to sell in a way that it doesn’t make people sick.”
A new approach has taken shape at Johnson.
The company is partnering with three new companies, including the company’s longtime rival, Organic Valley, to develop new food labels.
The label will include information on ingredients, labelling, packaging, and safety.
The new labels will be available to farmers as early as April, Johnston said, and they will also include “sustainable practices.”
In addition to the organic and sustainable practices, Johnston’s farm will also be adding an option for farmers to opt out of the organic label.
The changes will give the farm a more inclusive, sustainable label, Johnston added.
“It’s a great way to go from a marketing perspective, it’s very easy for people to use, and it’s much better for the environment, because there’s no pesticide in the produce.”
Johnston said he’s confident the new label will help the company win back the trust of consumers.
“Consumers are looking for products that they know and trust, so we have to make sure that they are really the best products,” Johnston added, citing the company as an example.
Johnston said the new labels should not impact the company in any way.
“They will not impact our bottom line or our profitability,” he said.
Johnston has already secured a commitment from Organic Valley to buy up to 75 percent of the farm.
Johnston is hopeful the label changes will help to boost the company to profitability and to bring back some of the loyal customers who have abandoned the farm, especially in the early years.
“The market has been shifting, and we’re seeing an influx of people coming in who are looking to invest, to buy, to invest,” Johnston explained.
“In the last year alone, we have a couple of million new consumers.”
Johnston’s strategy has been a success for the farm since it went public in 2011.
The farm, which produces organic fruits and vegetables from its home in South Carolina, is a major supplier to grocery stores and to large grocery chains such as Kroger and Safeway.
Johnson currently makes more than 100 million pounds of organic produce a year, and Johnston expects to double that this year.
“Our business is growing, and our sales are growing.
We’re just seeing an uptick in demand for organic, so that’s the main focus,” Johnston told Bleacher Reports.
“That’s why we’re bringing our products in, and that’s why the labels are being made.
We know that when you get more of your products in the marketplace, you can get more money back for your farmers and for the farmers themselves.”