2020 Produce Business 40 Under Forty Award Winner: Douglas Posthuma

Age: 38
Buying Manager
Alsum Farms and Produce Inc.
Friesland, WI

Posthuma has been with Alsum for 17 years and has worked in nearly every aspect of the company from onion buying to potato and onion sales, to now building trusted relationships with growers and customers. His responsibilities have evolved to collaborate with farmers, monitor market trends on potato stocks and varieties. He has been central to building the company’s relationships with farm supplier partners and customers. He is a key driver of the business, working to determine customer pricing and returning a favorable price to the farmers. Posthuma started at Alsum in June of 2003 when he was hired to be the onion buyer and participate in sales. He gradually became more involved on the sales side eventually moving to serve as account manager for key national accounts. Currently, he sources potatoes while maintaining key national sales accounts.

Posthuma has furthered his leadership development and service to the potato industry as a current board of director for the United Potato Growers Cooperative of Wisconsin, attended the 2020 Potato Industry Leadership Institute (PILI) and is a graduate of the inaugural Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association Member Development Program in 2019

Hobbies: Traveling, Triathlons, Hiking, Brewing Beer, Coaching varsity golf and middle school boys’ basketball

Personal: Married, two children

Motto in life: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

Q: How did you begin working in the produce industry?
I grew up and graduated in the community that calls Alsum Farms & Produce home. I was fortunate to start work at a family-owned and operated business that allowed me to live and work near my family. While I had very little produce knowledge, I just soaked up as much as I could as fast as I could working with our team.

Q: What industry improvements would you like to see?
I would like to see the industry continuing to work on solutions to reduce food waste in our country. Every American deserves access to good nutrition and produce can fill that need. I would like for there to be better outlets and opportunities for every grower/packer/shipper and those a part of the supply chain to move product that may not be able to be sold for its original intention and use it to help feed those in need. This has come a long way through the years, but there is still a lot of opportunity out there to help conquer hunger in America.

Q: What advice would you give someone new to the produce industry?
Jump in 100 percent. It is a great industry to be a part of because the people — from growers, customers to suppliers, are all dedicated and passionate about the industry and their businesses. You will make lifelong friendships built on honesty, integrity, trials and challenges.

Q: How has the industry changed during your tenure?
The biggest change from when I started to where we are now is the change in consumer packages. In the potato industry you see more of a shift toward smaller specialty packs now more than ever. The 5-pound pack is still the largest volume potato pack. Demand for specialty packs of 12 ounce to 3-pound is growing by consumers based on lifestyle trends and demographics.

Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception about the produce industry by the public at large?
One of the biggest misconceptions about the produce industry by the public is that farmers are not good stewards of the farmland. Ultimately, the health and future of the farm business is pivotal to land stewardship to grow a quality crop to bring to market. Each year we implement new technologies as part of our good agriculture practices to help us improve the quality of the soil and water. Our success and future vitality depend on being a steward of our land so ultimately we can pass the farm legacy to the next generation to grow and nurture the land for decades to come.

Q: What would you like consumers to know about the industry?
Everything that comes out of the ground or off the tree does not come out of a mold. As much as we would love to make all the produce as eye appealing as it is delicious or nutritious, it just is not possible. There is way too much produce that doesn’t get sold because of the way it looks. There is a movement for Imperfect Produce, but I think we have a long way to go to find a value and a place for produce that is not picture perfect. There are many influences affecting the way produce looks that are beyond a farmer’s control when mother nature is your business partner.

Q: What would you like to be doing in your career when you turn 50?
I would like to continue to give back to the industry by volunteering to serve on national potato boards and committees. Being more involved in the industry allows one to grow, connect and network with some of the industry’s brightest minds. Additionally, I would like to mentor the next generation of produce professionals to pass along knowledge and equally learn from and be a voice of encouragement to them. I would also like to continue to grow my relationship with our growers.