7 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017
This case illustrates the problems of a small hydroponic produce company trying to achieve breadth and depth of distribution for a new product. The company is considering going around traditional channels and selling directly to stores and restaurants. The economics of the proposition are central to the case. (replaces UVA-M-0329)
John Wright, marketing manager for Waterfield Farms, looked across the expanse of full, green heads of Boston lettuce before him. Sheltered in a six-acre greenhouse, where it had grown since germination, the lettuce crop was the picture of healthy produce. Wright's challenge was to present his product in that same aesthetically pleasing state to his customers. The look of fresh, unbruised leaves was vital to the specialty produce image he had set out to create for Waterfield Farms' hydroponic lettuce.
Waterfield Farms was part of the Food Products Division of the Weyerhaeuser Company, a major force in the growing and harvesting of timber and the manufacture, distribution, and sale of forest products. With the acquisition of a state-of-the-art greenhouse in Rapidan, Virginia, the company moved into the fresh produce industry; production capacity of the greenhouse was estimated to be 40,000 cases of lettuce per month, with each case containing 24 heads of lettuce.
The Lettuce Market
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Keywords: cost analysis, distribution channels, distribution strategy, new-product development, small business
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