Originally printed in the September 2022 issue of Produce Business.
For Chelsea Consalo, executive vice president of Consalo Family Farms, learning about the produce business started at an early age, directly from her grandfather, Andy Consalo.
“The photo of the two of us is from 1995. I have a copy of it next to my bedside. He was a role model in the New Jersey produce world, and in the business his whole life. Over the years, he built a great reputation for quality product and ethics in the industry,” says Chelsea Consalo.
The company was founded in 1927 by Chelsea’s great-grandfather, William Consalo Sr. He had a vision of bringing only the freshest and finest produce to market. As a farmer, first and foremost, he brought his love for the land to everything he grew. As Consalo Family Farms expanded, his reputation for fair dealing earned him the trust and confidence in an ever-widening market of customers.
Today, Consalo Family Farms is a vertically integrated grower, packer, shipper, importer and distributor. “We are proud to grow New Jersey blueberries, wet vegetables, herbs, cooking greens, salad items, eggplant, peppers and squash. Year-round, we also offer these items along with citrus,” she says. The Vineland-based company distributes its items in both the U.S. and Canada, allowing local New Jersey produce a national and international reach. The state’s unique geographic location makes transportation easier to retailers up and down the East Coast.
The company has certainly seen its share of changes from its roots in 1927 to today’s market.
“Our family business started with just one tractor and has grown into what it is today. I started working in the company right after college and since then, I have seen some immense changes in the produce world in terms of technology and rising costs. I have assisted with the implementation of payroll, food safety and farm software. None of this has been without the growth of the company,” says Consalo.
The company is currently in its third and fourth generation. “I represent the fourth generation and work alongside my siblings, Anthony (A.J.) and Sarah,” she says. “My father, Skip, is the current owner. Our grandparents became universally recognized in the produce business for service, dedication and family commitment to providing high quality fruit and produce for North America’s tables. Those principles and values still guide us today.”
In early 2021, the company opened a new cold storage and packing facility at its headquarters in Vineland. On the tail of this expansion, the company started construction on another addition, also located at the headquarters. With this part of the expansion just finishing, the farm is now at a 5,000-pallet capacity. Future plans include continuing to increase the company’s acreage.
“We are also continuing to grow our summer citrus program. We pack and market our own brand of citrus, Little Smoochies, for clementines, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and oranges. Consumer recognition of our brand has been remarkable,” says Consalo.
Because the company does everything in-house, the opportunities to service retailers are “endless,” she says. “With our expansion, we will not only increase space, but also packing capabilities. Our premium, double-bunched, placed pack herbs and wet vegetables are also available in any custom pack size in our distinguished pink Consalo Family Farms branded tag,” says Consalo.