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Inside the food box whirlwind at Titan Farms

The U.S. Department of Agriculture saw a Farmers to Families Food Box Program need in the Southeast, and Titan Farms was honored to fill it.

Titan Farms Sales, LLC, BB #:175539 Ridge Spring, SC, is primarily a grower-shipper of peaches and peppers, but for the next two months, it will also pack at least 280,000 20-pound boxes of fresh produce for the food box program.

“We’re appreciative to help fill this need, support American agriculture and get food to people who need it most,” said Ross Williams, director of packing operations.

He said Titan Farms bid in the first round of the program but wasn’t selected. He said no one from USDA contacted them about why their bid was rejected, and no one from Titan inquired.

But in late June, Williams said USDA contacted the company and asked if it would like to be in the July-August round, and it had less than a week to adjust and resubmit a bid.

“It was less than a seven-day turnaround,” Williams said. “It was a very quick process.”

USDA awarded Titan Farms a $5.67 million contract, but Williams said the company found higher need and demand, so they resubmitted a bid since being approved and negotiated a higher number that USDA hasn’t announced yet.

Titan will pack all the boxes in its South Carolina facility and ship them to hunger groups in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida.

Williams said on July 7 that the company had already packed 28,000 boxes in the past five days for the program.

“This is what we do,” he said. “We procure it, we pack it, we deliver it. So, this is right in our wheelhouse.”

He said since the pandemic hit, the company has been busy and hasn’t had layoffs, so it’s using existing staff to work on the program.

Williams said the company first wants to pack as much Southeast-grown product as possible, but will also use apple and potatoes, for instance, from the Western U.S.

And, of course, Titan will pack 2 to 4 pounds of its peaches in each box, he said.

Williams said the company has had to adjust its warehouse, but everyone there is confident in fulfilling the contract.

“You won’t find a group with more ingenuity than American farmers,” he said. “Operationally, we’re confident we’ll fulfill it and exceed expectations.”

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services