Sustainability program takes root in innovation with new role at Oppy
One step closer to its goal of becoming one of the greatest sustainable produce companies in the world
Gaining extensive experience in sustainable practices for nearly 165 years, the leading grower, marketer and distributor of fresh produce is addressing its environmental and social stewardship responsibilities in a fresh way with the promotion of Garland Perkins to the refined role of senior manager of innovation and sustainability.
Until recently, management and measurement of sustainability efforts sat with Steve Roosdahl, who guided Oppy’s endeavors in this key area with diligence and style over many years, shared Executive Director of Marketing Karin Gardner. When Roosdahl was promoted to vice president of operations last summer, his new scope made it necessary to consider different leadership for the company’s sustainability strategy. Perkins, whose natural interest in the field, and Oppy’s recognition that sustainability and innovation projects often go hand-in-hand, was the clear choice to carry the banner forward.
“Through her career, and especially as our innovation lead, Garland has established herself as a creative but pragmatic strategist with the perseverance to see new opportunities through from start to finish,” Gardner said. “By applying the same open-minded yet disciplined approach to the direction of our sustainability goals, Garland will doubtless guide them forward successfully into the future.”
At Oppy for nearly a decade and leading its innovation strategy since 2019, Perkins had organically linked both roles through the years, positioning Oppy as a pioneer in shelf life extension technology through its extensive trials. “Ensuring produce has an efficient shelf life to ultimately deliver an excellent consumer experience, safeguards the need for outside interventions,” said Perkins. “It’s all in the spirit of mitigating food waste and ensuring our products are of the upmost quality.”
On the occasion that some produce, like weather-damaged fruit, is not in suitable quality for retail, Oppy’s sales and quality control teams explore every avenue to ensure no product goes to waste. Most often, advocates for the imperfect-looking produce trend or various wholesale customers will take fruit with cosmetic quality issues. Product that isn’t sold is donated to food banks, otherwise to animal farms. Finally, Oppy works with ReFeed which extracts 100% utility from unused food by either converting to feed for livestock or creating natural fertilizer and soil amendments in a worm farm, ensuing nothing goes into the landfill, but rather back to Mother Earth.
“Oppy is keyed into the importance of sustainability and how imperative it is for surviving and thriving into the future. We have big plans and big targets: for ourselves, and for our partners, all of which I am incredibly thrilled to be a part of, and honored to be leading,” shared Perkins.