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Sun Valley Fresh Foods: Making Healthy, Nutritious Meals Easy
The greatest wealth is health, and Sun Valley Fresh Foods (SVFF) has been contributing to the wellness portfolios of consumers for over 12 years. The company has grown in its history from a small-scale producer of private-label ready-to-eat bagged salads to one of the largest suppliers of complete salad kits to retail supermarkets across western Canada. Developing salad kits for the everyday consumer is a tricky process and SVFF prides itself on finding ways to keep up with culinary trends without ever compromising nutrition or freshness.
The Smith family incorporated Shandro Investments Ltd. (operating as Sun Valley Fresh Foods) in 1998, and the Kelowna-based company very quickly expanded from its initial focus supplying fresh-cut produce primarily for the food service sector in the Okanagan Valley. Within its first four years the company quickly outgrew its original 1,800-square foot facility. Once the operations relocated to a 9,000-square foot space the company managed to double its revenue for four consecutive years before moving a third time to its present 30,000-square foot facility. Today, the company produces a line of innovative gourmet delicatessen salad kits with exclusive-made salad dressing cups using the freshest, never-frozen gourmet greens, fresh vegetables and additional fruit/nut/dairy components available.
The key to SVFF’s success has been finding developing adaptability in its product line, while focusing on the highest quality and customer service standards. The company excels at providing the absolute freshest ingredients possible in configurations that expedite the assembly process. “We provide salad kits to retail stores and we ship everything in containers complete with forks and instructions. SVFF also does business with local hospitals, in which case the salads are shipped fresh.
Health is at the core of SVFF’s business and the team maintains its own research and development occasionally collaborating with those of clients, to develop healthy options to suit particular dietary needs. “We work with several hospitals to develop salads that fit the strictest standards of nutrition for the hospital, providing the nutritional analysis and labeling on the package,” asserts Smith.
SVFF works with companies and within environments where health and wellness is paramount, and for this reason the company strives to surpass industry standards when it comes to food safety and quality control. SVFF delivers on its promise to provide safe, fresh food by running a Prerequisite Program, by constantly updating its Good Manufacturing Practices, and through a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Program to cover all bases of the production process. SVFF even brings in a third-party auditor to overlook the programs and, as Smith puts it, “make sure that what’s said on paper is actually being carried through in practice.”
To uphold its best practices SVFF updates operations with innovations in processing, cold chain management and packaging. There isn’t any single definitive way of extending the shelf life of fresh vegetables, however, so SVFF uses a system of distribution centers and cold storage trucks to preserve products for as long as possible. SVFF has its main center in Kelowna, but also has distribution centers in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon to deliver fresh salads as far away as Thunder Bay, Ontario, which is really as far as SVFF’s arms can reach with a perishable product.
Obviously, the high perishability of fresh vegetables means that SVFF’s production process can’t avoid producing waste, but the company participates with a local company to find expired product a suitable home. SVFF also donates to local food banks and missions. SVFF has partnered with a local company that takes the excess fruit and vegetable, juices it, and makes nutritional bars from the pulp.
“It’s a really exciting time for us and we couldn’t be happier to help a local company grow,” says Smith. And this attitude has permeated other facets of operations. The reality of Canadian agriculture is that fresh vegetables are only cost effective to produce in the summer months, so SVFF regularly ships produce from California for year-round supply. However, SVFF works to increasingly prioritize local Canadian farms whenever possible to supply it with fresh fruit and vegetables. “We won’t give up on the local farms, and we do try to use as much local onions, root vegetables and hothouse produce as we can manage from the local suppliers,” says Smith.
The popularity of fresh salads doesn’t seem to be fading; rather, the demand for health-centered options at a reasonable price point only seems to be increasing. SVFF even has a product in development that Smith believes will “revolutionize the way value-added salads are bought and sold in Canada.”
The retail food economy already appears to be rebounding, and Sun Valley Fresh Food’s ambitions and innovations will continue to supply consumers across Canada with simple, healthy, convenient and affordable choices.
Sun Valley feels very fortunate to have caring suppliers of 127 products, and truckers that go above and beyond to deliver quality that enhance the salads the company produces. The company is quick to admit that it couldn’t have succeeded without these partners. SVFF also would not be the company it is today if not for the retail stores that it services. They are SVFF’s No. 1 priority and are thankful for them.