“Our timing was good”, said Austin Fleming, one of the founders of FreshSense, “largely because of the increased need for fresh-cut products in our schools.Ask a dozen people for their definition of success and you will likely get a dozen different answers. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “success” as:

  1. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
  2. The attainment of fame, wealth, or social status

For FreshSense Foods and M-PASS Environmental, two local Atlanta companies, success can be measured by the volume of their organic recycling material. A novel concept, but one that is important in the eyes of a sustainability-focused business.

 

FreshSense is an innovative company that was founded in response to a rapidly-growing demand for fresh-cut, or “zero-prep”, produce. Established in January 2013, it is owned and operated by the same families that founded its sister company—Royal Food Service—over twenty years ago.

The second generation of the founding families of Fleming and Whitehurst recognized the growing market for value-added produce, and FreshSense was their “next-generation” solution. The constant search for ways to make our diets healthier and our cooking easier has amplified the zero-prep food market due to the ease with which it allows us to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into our meals. Plus, according to the 2015 Men’s Journal article 9 Diet Changes You Can Make Tomorrow, “You’ll eat [fruits and vegetables] faster and more consistently if you eliminate the work of cutting them up”.

While FreshSense services customers through multiple industry sectors, a large portion of their end-users are schools and other institutional feeders. So, if you live in the Southeastern part of the U.S., your kids are probably eating healthier at school thanks to FreshSense. “Our timing was good”, said Austin Fleming, one of the founders of FreshSense, “largely because of the increased need for fresh-cut products in our schools. We are encouraged to see such an increase in the focus on nutrition in those institutions, and are happy to be a part of the initiatives that are making our kids healthier”.

Through its history, Royal Foods has always placed an emphasis on sourcing locally-grown food whenever possible, and FreshSense is continuing that philosophy. In addition to their dedication to local sourcing, FreshSense strives to provide customers with a line of fresh and convenient foods that are unmatched in terms of product quality and value.

“According to M-PASS’s Lorraine White:
Recognizing the production growth of FreshSense, M-PASS made significant changes in their waste and recycling program, primarily by diverting organic material from landfill to recycling and enhancing their cardboard recycling program to better fit their growth”

The FreshSense team holds itself to a higher standard in everything they do from product quality and customer service, to safety compliance and employee training. Whole produce enters into the production room and is manufactured to customers’ specs by a combination of automated machinery, and in some instances, manually cut by experienced workers. They work fast to produce the freshest possible product, and you’ll experience an energy in the facility that is always electric.

In only four years, FreshSense has more than doubled in size – in the number of employees, the size of its facilities, and product sales. But such meteoric growth comes with operational implications and soon the challenge became disposing of a new magnitude of organic waste. “When we started out, we quickly went from producing 10,000 pounds of organic waste a week to over 100,000 pounds per week,” Fleming said. “From the beginning we were committed to finding solutions to our recycling needs, and those needs had to be in line with our company’s vision to provide long-term sustainability throughout the produce supply chain. But, of course, we also had to be concerned with our operating costs”.

The search for a solution led FreshSense to M-PASS Environmental. According to M-PASS’s Lorraine White: “When we first started doing business with FreshSense in 2014, they were generating around 49 tons of trash per month and recycling almost 5.5 tons of cardboard each month. Recognizing the production growth of FreshSense, M-PASS made significant changes in their waste and recycling program, primarily by diverting organic material from landfill to recycling and enhancing their cardboard recycling program to better fit their growth. Since we set up their organic recycling program, they now recycle 200 tons of organic waste every month. And they average about 40 tons a month in cardboard recycling. Unbelievable volumes”.

Their innate focus on effective employee training paid off and became an important part in the success of the new recycling program. The growing pains were apparent as the FreshSense team developed new procedures to accommodate the initiative, but “I think [our operators and supervisors] do care about the environmental impact of our work,” indicated Fleming.

Chris Witherspoon of M-PASS added, “It was a learning experience for all of us. The results are clear – it is possible for a business to generate large amounts of organic waste in a sustainable, cost-effective manner”.

Fleming said that the partnership with M-PASS has enabled them to refocus on what they do best—providing fresh-cut produce to its customers—by facilitating the necessary waste removal while minimizing their effects on the environment.