Palm Beach County produces more sweet corn than any other county in the nation, and a new consumer-friendly microwavable whole ear sweet corn pack has sprung from that legacy.
John E. “Buddy” McKinstry, founder and owner of JEM Farms and Rick Roth, president of Roth Farms, formed Next Level Fresh LLC in 2015 to market the product that’s packed at Ray’s Heritage, Roth’s packinghouse. Both of the Belle Glade farmers have roots in farming going back to the 1930s.
The trademarked Fresh Life Harvest Sweet Corn hit the shelves for the first time in April. It’s available in the refrigerated case at many South Florida Publix Super Markets at four ears for $4.99. The corn is shucked, washed, sanitized and each ear is wrapped in a laminated perforated film to keep it fresh for up to 14 days.
Erin McKinstry, McKinstry’s daughter, who works in sales and marketing at Heritage Farms, said the product will be available year-round, even after Palm Beach County’s crop wraps up each spring.
“We will pull from Georgia, then New York, then back to Georgia and back to Florida,” McKinstry said.
Heritage Farms Produce LLC is the sales and marketing arm for Ray’s Heritage.
James Jacks, sales representative at Heritage Farms, said so far roughly 100,000 ears have been sold in the new packs.
“We have it in mind for about three years. We came up with it the first of this year and started trying to promote it,” Jacks said. “It’s some of the finest sweet corn you will ever put in your mouth.”
Jacks explained that the ears are intact and not cut on the ends. This makes for a safer, cleaner product and keeps bacteria out. It also results in 30 percent more corn than in a tray pack with the ends cut off.
Erin McKinstry said other convenience products are in the works for other vegetables produced in the Glades, such as celery, leaf items, radishes, cabbage and green beans.
“Our plans are to go into restaurants and food service,” Erin McKinstry said. “We are pretty excited.”
Palm Beach County produces more sweet corn than any other county in the nation. The crop is typically valued at more than $100 million a year.