Solata Foods, LLC (“Solata” or the “Company”) is a boutique manufacturer of packaged salads in plastic clamshells and bags for the wholesale markets; the Company is a year-round producer of a wide variety of baby leafy green salads which include English style watercress, spinach, arugula, kale, chard, various lettuces and similar products. Solata also produces niche products that are unique to Solata, such as Baby Bok Choy and Watercress, both on its own and in blends. Solata is financially backed by private equity through Uniprop, a family office that has been headquartered in Birmingham, Michigan for over 35 years. Our access to equity capital allows us to invest in long-term projects for the benefit of all our stakeholders.
What we do
Solata receives products from farmers and growers that meet our exacting standards located throughout the United States; the leafy greens are shipped in bulk from states such as California, Texas, Colorado and Florida to our facility in Newburgh, NY. At our Newburgh facility, the product is received, inspected and weighed. The next step is our triple wash process, which rejuvenates the leaves, and then the product is sent to the packing table or machine. For clamshells, our baby leafy green vegetables are hand-packed. We prefer to hand pack versus a packing machine because it provides more “eyes on the product” to inspect the product throughout the packaging process. For plastic bags, our product is packaged by a machine that is fed by a long conveyor belt which again allows visual inspection of the product. The bagging machine precisely weighs the product and then drops it into a plastic bag that is immediately sealed for freshness.
We produce a wide variety of salads in clamshells and plastic bags. Examples include English style watercress, baby spinach, baby arugula, baby kale, chopped kale, bok choy and blends of these items into various mixes. Clamshells are usually 4 or 5 ounces of product and our bags contain various weights. We sell under the Solata Foods, Solatacress and Farmers’ Direct labels, and also do private labels for customers.
Where we are located
Solata is located in Newburgh, NY about 80 miles north of Manhattan. Our 30,000 sf facility is located at the intersection of Interstate(s) 87 and 84, which provide excellent transportation and truck access for our suppliers for inbound freight and our logistics operation for our outbound freight. Our facility has the highest level of Food Safety Certification as confirmed by our SQF III certification. Our location allows for better product shelf life, since we receive our products in bulk and pack them closer to our end users.
Our logistics is outsourced to our sister company, R&R Freight Services, LLC located in North Branford, CT. By having an affiliate arrange and coordinate our inbound and outbound freight, we achieve high levels of customer satisfaction and manage our costs. Many of our competitors pack their salads in California, and then ship them across the country; we believe our products are fresher because we ship them in bulk across the country and then deliver them to our customers. Our freshness also increases the shelf life to our retail customers and end consumers; our end consumers do not like their salads to spoil after only a day or two in their refrigerator.
Our suppliers are all food safety certified growers with years of experience growing leafy green baby vegetables. We achieve farm diversification by using multiple suppliers that have multiple farms. Our growers follow the growing seasons, moving from North to South and vice versa as summer and winter seasons arrive. We purchase plastic products and cardboard boxes from local and international suppliers that have the required certification for anti-microbial inspections for any product that comes in contact with our leafy green vegetables.
Our customer is a variety of retailers, including regional supermarkets and high-end boutique markets. For our customers in the Northeast, our location in the Hudson Valley of New York is a major advantage due to reduced outbound shipping times and our “locally packed” labels.
Our four guiding principles are as follows;
- health and safety of our workforce
- food safety
- quality of our products
- consistent supply for our customers
Food Safety is a process of continuous improvement at Solata; we work each day to improve our processes. We are proud of our SQF III rating but never rest on that certification. We constantly test our product and analyze our procedures to reduce the risk of contamination. We understand that we produce a product that will be ingested by people of all ages.
Roger Zlotoff, President; Varick Warren, COO; Maggie Skorski, Accounts Receivable, Sue Kehrig, Controller, Jeff Padgett, IT and Jose Bello, Shipping Manager
Our goal at Solata is to be an innovative supplier to our customers for niche products and services that are not available from our larger competitors. We focus on service, quality and innovation. We offer products like bok choy and watercress that are not available from our competitors. We can accept shorter lead times on orders. We can adjust shipping schedules. We hand pack our clamshells. We have the ability to adapt to a customer’s needs quickly. We know our customers on a personal basis. We try to spoil our customers with service, attention and flexibility.
Our facility is approximately 30,000 sf with 3,000 sf of office and 27,000 sf of refrigerated space. Along with 2 complete wash lines, we have equipment for packing salads in plastic bags or to sonic-weld clamshell containers. Labeler and related equipment are also onsite. We have 9 total acres plenty of trailer storage. Our loading docks can accommodate both inbound and outbound freight at the same time.
We value the feedback from our customers and have a direct email through which customers may state their comments and frequently their complaints.
Our workforce fluctuates from time to time but generally includes 60 to 70 employees, many of whom have worked for Solata for many years.
We carry all required forms of insurance including liability, worker’s compensation and similar coverages as required by the State of New York and our customers
We compete against several large companies that pack salads in clamshells and bags, including Veg-Pro, Taylor Farms and Earthbound, State Garden, Organic Girl, Dole and Fresh Express. We frequently cooperate with some competitors to insure adequate supply of our products throughout the year.
At Solata, we understand that we produce the most necessary of products, healthy food for people to consume. We believe that a proper diet is the most essential element of good health. We view food as medicine. As grandma said “You are what you eat”. We take food seriously. As Americans, we frequently focus on medical care, as opposed to health care. Health care is focused on preventing illness. Medical care focuses on curing illness once it is detected. Leafy green vegetables are terrific for human health. Many peer reviewed studies have shown that a healthy diet can not only prevent illness but reverse illness, when combined with moderate exercise and stress reduction. Solata wants to contribute to wellness; we want people to have quality food as medicine, and not have to take medicine as their food. Lastly, we try to adhere to our Guiding Principles every day; if we do that, good things will happen.