FoA 331: Building Local Frozen Fruit Supply Chains with Alex Piasecki of Seal the Seasons

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Seal the Seasons: https://sealtheseasons.com/

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Today’s episode features Alex Piasecki, co-founder and COO of Seal the Seasons, a retail consumer brand of packaged frozen fruit and vegetables. Seal The Seasons is aptly named as its mission is to bring locally grown produce to your grocery store 12 months a year. They do this by sourcing high quality fruit and vegetable varieties from local growers and leveraging grower hubs for processing, packaging and distribution within the local region. It’s a different model than the bigger frozen companies where some of the competition is sourcing from outside the US.

The business idea started at the Farmers Market in North Carolina where as a college student Alex’s partner and Seal the Seasons founder Patrick Mateer, was working for a non-profit that donated unsold produce to the local community. When there would be excess produce either because of a rainstorm or by not selling out, the vendors would be stuck with all this produce so the idea of freezing for distribution year around came about.

So, these college students got together to form a business case, and won an entrepreneurship award at UNC and then launched the business in 2016. Since then a lot has happened.

Today, Seal the Seasons operates in 6 regional markets across the country and offers a way for local growers to diversify their customer base. We get into what types of produce Seal the Seasons sources, what they look for in grower-partners they work with, and the goal behind the operation which is to rebuild connections among American consumers and the growers that feed them.

This story was put together by my guest co-host for today’s episode, Jennifer Barney. Jennifer is back after she first co-hosted with me for the episode we did in August where she featured Teffola. To refresh your memory, Jennifer is a consumer-packaged goods (CPG) expert. She lives in the Central Valley of California and got her start in the food industry 16 years ago when she founded the almond butter brand Barney Butter. She successfully grew the brand to nationwide retail distribution and then sold the company. After exiting Barney Butter, Jennifer has since become an advisor and consultant to startups and ag leaders who want to get closer to the consumer with their own brands and innovations. She writes an email newsletter that I recommend called The Business of Food where she shares food industry knowledge including business modeling, growth tips, and what to focus on at the early stages of business. You can subscribe to that for free at jenniferbarney.substack.com.

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