In The News

Produce Marketers for All Seasons: Tom and Steve Church

SALINAS, Calif. — They have a way of knowing clients’ needs before they’re told, and a reputation for innovation in fresh produce marketing.

At Fresh Summit 2016, The Packer honors Church Brothers Farms chairman Tom Church and CEO Steve Church as Produce Marketers for All Seasons, the annual award given during Fresh Summit since 1992.

Salinas-based Church Brothers Farms, founded 1999, grows crops on 35,000 acres in California, Arizona and Mexico, providing hundreds of vegetable products to foodservice and retail.

They planned to introduce two more at Fresh Summit in booth 1029.

1980s beginnings

But it was at Fresh Western, home of the River Ranch brand, that the brothers first made their mark in the 1980s after early experiences at Bruce Church Inc.

Independently of their uncle, Tom Church started Fresh Western in 1981 with four partners. Steve Church joined them in 1985.

It began as a brokerage, but over time the brothers became growers’ sales agents, then moved into growing, harvesting, cooling and processing. True Leaf Farms, formed in 2003, is the processing arm of Church Brothers Farms and handles about 400,000 cartons weekly.

Many of their breakthroughs and early adoptions came in pursuit of vertical integration.

“Tom was instrumental in pushing the one-stop shop concept early on in the River Ranch days,” said David Gill, owner of Gills Onions and Rio Farms and majority partner in True Leaf. “They developed the idea of combining value-added and commodities to let the customer load everything in one place. They understood the business of the foodservice customer enough to do things they needed done, providing a service.”

 

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LOCATIONS

 


Sales & Main Office


19065 Portola Drive
Salinas, CA 93908


Processing Plant


1275 San Justo Road
San Juan Bautista, CA 95045


Processing Plant 

(Winter Season)


2955 S Avenue 2½ E
Yuma, AZ 85365

 

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HOURS OF OPERATION

Sales:

6am-5pm: Mon-Fri
7am-11am: Sat
Closed: Sunday

Appointment Loading:

 

6.30am - Midnight
(Mon-Sat)
Closed: Sunday