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Grimmway Farms was started by the Grimm brothers in the southern San Joaquin Valley in central California in the 1960s. Grimmway is the largest grower, producer, and shipper of carrots in the world. Along with carrots, Grimmway Farms produces potatoes, citrus, and carrot juice varieties. It is headquartered in Bakersfield, California.
Grimmway Farms traces its history to the mid-1960s, when Rodney Grimm, who was in college, and Robert Grimm, who was only in eighth grade, started farming five acres of sweet corn on their grandfather's chicken farm in Anaheim, California. Their first employees were their cousins and two sisters, who sold the corn from produce stands along the roadside. Through the years, they added other crops, but by the late 1970s, Rod and Robert became deeply in debt. In the early 1980s, the brothers saw a promising future in the carrot farming business in the San Joaquin Valley, so they relocated to Kern County. "After the concept of baby carrots was successfully test-marketed by another company in Los Angeles, 'it quickly turned into a race to see which processors could put in equipment fast enough to serve the emerging market,' Robert Grimm later recalled. He considered the name 'a happy accident' for the baby carrots, while it did nothing to dissuade shoppers from thinking they were buying an immature root vegetable." By the mid-1990s, the company was able to process millions of pounds of baby carrots a day.
In 1998, Rod Grimm died of cancer at the age of 51. Robert Grimm then took over as company president. "We had a lot of respect for each other, and shared a common work ethic and approach to religion," Robert Grimm said about his older brother. Rod Grimm was known for his generosity to the communities where his business flourished and for sponsoring scholarships for children of his employees. "A decade later, [Grimmway Farms] began buying other companies, including two top carrot-packing firms, to become the industry leader. By 2000, they had reportedly grown into a $350-million operation with five plants in the United States and Scotland and products shipped to more than 20 countries." Grimmway Farms have been recognized for boosting the sales of the baby carrot by positioning it as a healthful snack and packaging it in ways that make it easy to put in kids' sack lunches and serve on airplanes. Today, baby carrots account for about 70% of carrot sales at Grimmway; Kern County's largest employer with 7,000 employees. Grimmway and Bolthouse Farms, a competitor also based in Bakersfield, CA, produce almost 90% of California's carrots. In 2001, Grimmway Farms purchased King Pak Farms. King Pak was a thriving potato growing, packing, and shipping operation in Edison, California.
On March 17, 2006, Robert Grimm, president of Grimmway Farms, died of a heart attack in his home in Bakersfield, California. Robert Grimm had served on the association's board since 1988. Robert Grimm was also known for his quiet activism in California politics. In 2004, Grimmway Farms was one of the major financial backers of a proposed workers' compensation ballot initiative that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger used in negotiating a compromise bill with the California Legislature. Governor Schwarzenegger is currently working with California business interests, including Grimmway Farms, to oppose another ballot initiative dealing with workers' compensation. Jeff Meger, the Grimm's nephew and company vice president, has taken over as the current president of Grimmway Farms.
Grimmway is a top supplier of baby carrots. Its products include snack-size packs; diagonally sliced bias cut carrots for soups, stews, or side dishes; carrot chips, carrot crisps, carrot stixx, crinkle cut coins, and shredded carrots; and 24-count bunch carrots with green tops intact, jumbo carrots, and long, smooth table carrots. Grimmway produces red and russet potatoes, the trademark products of King Pak Farms, and citrus fruit varieties—including lemons, Navel and Valencia oranges, Minneola tangelos, and grapefruits. Grimmway also produces carrot juice and carrot juice based products used in soup bases, vegetable blends, condiment formulation, and flavor additives.
Cal-Organic Farms, Grimmway Farms’ organic division, began in 1983. The business is made up of thousands of certified organic acres. Sixty year-round crops are grown including: carrots, potatoes, onions, lettuce, and melons. It remains family owned and operated. Cal-Organic is located in Lamont, California at the southernmost end of the San Joaquin Valley, 15 miles southeast of the city of Bakersfield. Other acres outside of the San Joaquin Valley include the Tehachapi Mountains, Antelope Valley and the Coachella and Imperial Valleys.
Grimmway Farms has received kosher certification from the Orthodox Union (OU) in New York. All of the processed carrots are kosher certified. “Kosher” is Hebrew for fit or proper, and is used to describe foods that are prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary laws. Fruits and vegetables are considered kosher. However, when yielding produce some non-kosher elements can be harvested with the produce. Kosher consumers are careful to eliminate any of these unwelcome elements.
It has been awarded Shield #002 for participation and acceptance in the USDA Qualified Through Verification (QTV) program; third party auditors include USDA, AIB, Siliker Labs, Scientific Certification Systems, and Davis Fresh Technologies. Grimmway’s agricultural practices include monthly self-audits, quarterly third party program audits, and an annual intensive 3-day third party audit. Each field is audited prior to harvest and all new contracted growers must complete a self-audit.
- Central Valley carrot baron dies, Central Valley Business Times, March 20, 2006, Accessed January 2, 2011.