More than a quarter century before Coca-Cola served up its first soft drink—and a half century before the first Boeing airplane took flight—Oppenheimer Bros. & Co. was going strong, provisioning the fortune seekers bound for the Cariboo Gold Rush.
Celebrating its 160th anniversary this month, the Vancouver, BC-based Oppy has grown into a leading international fresh produce marketing company, innovating across the decades to serve changing customer needs and navigating the ebbs and flows of consumer trends.
“We’re blessed with the enormous amount of perspective 160 years in business gives a company,” said John Anderson, chairman president and CEO, whose career with Oppy spans over a quarter of its history. “We’ve had a front row seat to world events, and participated in the initiatives that shaped our industry. Today, we couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities ahead. There will be challenges, of course, but like any enduring company we’ve been strengthened by the adversity and innovation that have ultimately shaped our success.”
Anderson said that among other things, the company is focusing on addressing the digital shopping trend, developing sustainable innovations across the supply chain, and driving sales through trade and consumer data and insights in the first days of its 161st year.
“Oppy made its mark in fresh produce when we imported the first easy-peel, seedless mandarin oranges from Japan in 1891,” said Anderson. “Now that sweet, seedless oranges are in virtually everyone’s shopping cart, it’s gratifying to reflect on our long-ago contribution to the huge popularity of seedless citrus today, but also recognize that there are endless new possibilities out there.”
While the company is renowned for influencing the fresh produce landscape by introducing Granny Smith, Royal Gala, Braeburn, Pacific Rose™, JAZZ™ and Envy™ apples, not to mention green kiwifruit into Canada and gold kiwifruit across North America, Anderson notes that the team at Oppy remains tireless in its pursuit of new flavors and innovations.
“We are challenging ourselves to present solutions that satisfy shoppers’ needs, achieve positive results for retailers and growers, or differentiate in a way that drives profitability across the supply chain,” he said, pointing to Oppy’s recently launched Ocean Spray® Family-Farmer Owned™ berry brand as an example of this holistic approach. “We’re constantly exploring what’s next, be it exciting new grape varieties from Chile, new types of apples, kiwifruit or tomatoes, or a pack that fills a niche—always striving for high quality, safety and an enjoyable eating experience.”
Anderson said that innovation at Oppy is reflected in more than in its product line: it’s manifested in the company structure and the way it goes to market.
“By investing with growers and serving the marketplace together—while also prioritizing supply chain technology, logistics, marketing and service—we are more deeply integrated as a grower and marketer than ever before,” he commented. “In the hands of an amazing team, and powered by our expect the world from us promise, Oppy is well positioned for the complex challenges of today and the next 160 years.”