Who Truly Handles Your Food - Understanding The Produce Supply Chain
During the time period following harvest, fruit is cleaned, graded, inventoried, waxed and/or treated with preservatives, and ultimately packed into cold storage for transport to its final destination: your grocery store. Depending on the specific fruit and grower, these steps are usually undertaken by different handlers within the supply chain.
Who are the handlers?
Handlers are the companies, and the people that work at them, who handle produce before it reaches the grocery store. The primary handlers are: farm, transporter, distributor, marketer, grocery store.
Depending on the fruit and farm, much of the fruit that is available to you at the grocery store has been purchased from the farmer by a distributor who buys from many farms and aggregates the fruit for grading, treatment and packing. In some cases there is both a distributor and a separate marketer whose brand the fruit will be sold under, and in some cases the distributor and the marketer are the same company.
Buying direct from the farm
When you purchase directly from the farm, either at a farmers market, via your local CSA or with FruitStand, not only is there less handling (waxing and preservatives are typically not needed for direct to consumer sales because the timeline is so short), all of the handling occurs with the farmer.