Two of Kern’s largest ag operations have become partners though a new arrangement that puts Bakersfield-based carrot giant Grimmway Farms in charge of growing baby potatoes for Arvin-based market leader Tasteful Selections.
The unannounced deal confirmed this week by both parties means Grimmway will take over farming across more than 22,000 acres of farmland Tasteful Selections controls in seven states. That leaves the Arvin-based company to process the vegetables at its 680,000-square-foot facility along Di Giorgio Road.
The partnership led Tasteful Selections late last month to let go of 55 employees at the Arvin plant and along River Run Boulevard in Bakersfield in positions ranging from vice president of farming to agronomists, maintenance workers and farmworkers. Both companies said the laid-off workers were offered jobs at Grimmway.
Grimmway said it has previously been contracted to grow additional crops for other companies. But for Tasteful Selections, the arrangement represents a departure from the farming side of its operation.
Tasteful Selections said it will continue to wash, store, grade, pack and distribute bite-size potatoes in Arvin. It said the decision to contract Grimmway allows it to “maximize the operational efficiencies of our baby potato farming operation.”
A spokeswoman for Grimmway said by email the company’s CEO has told its workers the company’s potato and carrot divisions will complement each other. She added that no acreage Grimmway uses now will be displaced.
“This is a unique opportunity to combine two great farming operations, making a stronger and even more productive team,” wrote Vice President Dana Brennan of Grimmway’s external affairs and corporate responsibility.
Tasteful Selections, owned by out-of-state investors including Wisconsin-based farming company RPE, reported last year it grew potatoes in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. It said in 2021 it supplied half the U.S. market for small, specialty potatoes, making it the largest such company in the United States, if not the world.
Last spring the company introduced microwave-ready trays with seasonings, either garlic Parmesan or “American blend.”
“Tasteful Selections began with multi-generational potato farmers who recognized an opportunity to expand the baby potato category to meet the busy consumer’s preference for simpler, convenient meals,” the company said by email Tuesday.
“A pioneer in developing the bite-size potato category,” it continued, “Tasteful Selections has been part of the Arvin and Bakersfield communities for 12 years.”
Grimmway, which touts itself as the world’s largest carrot producer, was acquired in 2020 by an Indiana-based asset management firm. It sells more than 65 organic crops and brands. In 2019, it expanded its operations and farms in seven states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Oregon and Washington — through its acquisition of Lake Park, Ga.-based Generation Farms.
"All of the affected Tasteful employees have been offered employment at Grimmway,” Brennan stated, “and we anticipate a smooth transition.”