WG Insider with Pete Aiello
Posted on September 22, 2017 10:44 AM by WGCIT
Pete Aiello, General Manager of Uesugi Farms, joined us for an invite-only discussion with our Western Growers CIT innovators. On September 13, Aiello spoke about Uesugi Farms, its interesting origin story, and the operation's approach to innovative technologies as a means of staying competitive. CIT residents had the opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer session with Aiello, and ask him about his fresh produce varieties, the current marketplace, and his personal investment in solar power.
Aiello was asked about his typical day; it was very powerful for the startup residents to learn about a farmer’s day. From four and five in the morning, Aiello is on his ranches doing field checks. He then goes through the packing sheds, and usually ends up [reluctantly] at his office around noon. After he catches up on office meetings and communications, he goes back to the fields.
Aiello reiterated something that we have heard from various farmers, throughout the state: Uesugi Farms’ number one pain point is labor. Uesugi Farms has a high retention rate of their 250 + employees, but there is a very high turnover with their labor contractors. Onboarding time for a new employee is typically one full growing season. One of our residents pointed out that “it’s much easier to eat than to grow.”
Uesugi Farms offers over 20 varieties of fresh produce, including bell peppers, chili peppers, Napa cabbage, sweet corn, strawberries, pumpkins and beans to retailers, foodservice distributors, wholesalers and processors across the nation and the world. Uesugi Farms is known as one of the premier grower/packer/shippers in the industry, but is also recognized in the local community for its extravagant pumpkin patch during autumn and its roadside produce stands.