A sales and marketing professional specializing in organic produce, Jared Bray comes from a food safety, packing, and distribution management background. He demonstrates strong sales and customer service skills and comes with retail display planning and merchandising experience.
How many years have you been in the produce industry?
Jared: It’s been eight years in the produce industry overall and seven months (since February 2018) at West Pack Avocado. I come from an organic background. Prior to West Pak, I worked for a citrus packing cooperative where we packed all kinds of citrus and avocados grown in the state of California, as well as Arizona. Before that, I worked directly for an avocado and citrus grower/packer/shipper in San Diego. Both places that I have worked, I’ve had the great opportunity to focus on organic products. I have really enjoyed working in the organic space and helping to grow the organic category as a whole.
At West Pak, I’m sometimes referred to off-handedly as the organic specialist, but it’s nowhere in my title. I do have a very, very solid understanding of the organic avocado world and its needs but I’m not dedicated just to organics. I do sell our full line of products.
Why are you passionate for avocados?
Jared: My passion for avocados is twofold. The first half comes from my experience in working directly with growers to facilitate the sale of their crop to the appropriate customers. The other half of my passion for avocados comes from those customers. I genuinely look forward to each conversation I have and love learning as much as I can about my customers and their operations. Having customers engage me in helping to grow their avocado category ultimately is what keeps me coming back to the desk every day.
What is your role at West Pak?
Jared: My role at West Pak is sales and business development, but it’s a lot more than that to me. It’s about solid relationships and partnerships and taking the day to day transactional approach to buying and selling avocados out of the equation. Developing long-term, lasting relationships with my customers and partnerships between their customers and West Pak Avocado is where I really try and hone-in and focus my energy. Truthfully, any company can sell an avocado, but it takes a real class act company to keep those customers coming back and shopping year round. And that’s my goal is to provide year-round avocados to my customers. Not just at the times of year where it’s tight, or they need us most.
I have a unique blend of accounts where I have a lot of organic relationships that I have developed over the years. I have carried them forward with me here at West Pak, with top-line organic distributors throughout California and beyond. I also deal with some fun segments of the business. I’ve got a little bit of food service business that I deal with and some companies that highlight reductions in food waste and marketing the whole tree, so to speak, giving some love to the small fruit and the number twos as well. So I have an enjoyable mix of customers that I get to work with and it helps me to be a more “round and sound” salesperson.
I am excited about our brands at West Pak. The Lil’Cados brand is my favorite because I think it tells a great story. With a big avocado, often you’re going to have half of that go to waste because you can’t eat the whole thing. Having that small fruit offering to be able to capture multiple customers and people who will eat an entire avocado in one sitting or folks who are going to eat a smaller one in one sitting. So, Lil’Cados for me is probably my favorite foot forward of the new brands that we are putting out. AvoMonsters is an excellent concept, as well.
Coming up in California agriculture and the California produce industry there’s a special spot in my heart for California Gold, and there always will be. Because it’s a nod to the California growers that helped get this industry off the ground for us. And I think that California Gold every summertime is a great offering to put out on the shelf.
What are you most excited to see in the future of produce innovation?
Jared: We’ve seen a lot happen over the last eight years in the industry. I can remember when small fruit was one of those things that you had to try to give away because there were not developed markets for it. Today, I am really excited to see the emergence of merchandising the whole avocado tree. And what I mean by that is that the number ones, the number twos, the big stuff, the medium-sized fruit, and the small fruit is now finding a place at various retail outlets across the country and in new and emerging markets with new and emerging types of companies.
I excited by many of the packaging concepts that are coming out of West Pak like Lil’Cados, California Gold, and AvoMonsters – I’m excited to see what else we can do especially in tightened geographical locations like we’re doing with California Gold.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s PMA Fresh Summit?
Jared: Every show there comes some great stuff out of PMA and, even though I won’t be there this year, I’m looking forward to the conversations with my customers after they come back and after they’ve visited our booth, talked with our people who have had a chance to show off the new brands. I’m very excited for feedback on the brands including Lil’Cados and especially Lil’Cados Organic. I’m excited to see what the team brings back West Pak from their customer meetings. I’m looking forward to building off of that energy to get fall off to a great start.
The avocados have got to keep moving, and I’m happy to be the one that helps to keep that going so the rest of the team can be out there meeting with customers and developing new business.
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