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Talking Business Camellia Brands’ Vince Hayward Is Fighting To Stay ‘relevant’

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Talking Business Camellia Brands’ Vince Hayward Is Fighting To Stay ‘relevant’

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Talking Business Camellia Brands' Vince Hayward Is Fighting To Stay 'relevant'
Talking Business Camellia Brands' Vince Hayward Is Fighting To Stay 'relevant'

From a 40,000 square foot warehouse in Harahan, Camellia Brands cleans, sorts, processes and packages approximately one million pounds of dried beans, peas and lentils per week. These include the signature red kidney, a staple of the iconic New Orleans dish, red beans and rice.

Vince Hayward is the fourth generation to lead the family business founded by his great-grandfather in 1923. The company currently employs 70 people, processes 19 different types of grain and generates annual sales of US$30-40 million.

In this week's Talking Business, Hayward talks about the challenges of keeping a legacy company relevant and trying to reach an increasingly fragmented market of consumers who buy products from online grocery stores and want meals that are quick and easy to prepare.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tell me about the bean trade and what's going on here in Camellia.

Answer: We are not farmers. We don't grow beans. But we work with small family farmers across the United States and source strains from areas where they grow best. There is no bigger farm in the bean world than ADM (Archer Daniels Midland). All of our farmers are small farmers and we have worked with them for generations, which is one of the secrets of our success. You know what we need. We know what they produce and we speak the same language.

But wait a minute, don't kidney beans come from Louisiana?

Answer: Kidney beans are grown primarily in the central United States, as far north as Michigan and Minnesota. They can grow in Louisiana, but they don't thrive in dry climates.

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How to ensure the pressure on small farmers today? Is your business keeping some of these afloat?

Answer: The life of a farmer is always poor. Our farmers alternate between beans, corn, wheat and soybeans. Growing beans allows a farmer to replenish the soil since nothing is actually harvested from the plant. After the beans are harvested, the rest of the plant grows back into the ground. So we are a culture that has to rise in the cycle.

What's happening in the market for dried peas, beans and lentils? Is it better, worse than a few years or decades ago?

Answer: The trend is in our direction and in our favour. Anyone who eats a plant-based diet knows that beans make up a big part of it. We're full of flavor, low in fat and good for gut health. The downside is that they take a long time to cook. Consumer habits and preferences are geared towards fast cooking. Some of that has been mitigated by Insta-Pot and the resurgence of home cooking that has happened with Covid. That's what most of our marketing and advertising focuses on – how easy it is to cook beans and eat healthy, delicious food.

Is there a lot of competition in your market?

Answer: Most of the competition comes from private label grocery stores. Stores really want customers to buy their brands, especially now that they are concerned about the economy and people's habit of looking for cheaper options. So we're in pretty tough competition.

How do you know your dried beans are good? can you really

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Answer: Yes, it's about consistency. When it comes to beans, we are extremely picky. We also focus a lot on cook time, color, appearance, cleanliness, things that normal branded items can't focus on like we can.

Where are the pressure points in your industry at the moment?

A. I work. It's a struggle in many ways. On the one hand, inflation has hit our workforce hard, as has energy, food and even interest rates, so we are raising wages and salaries. At the same time, we're competing for a smaller pool of skilled labor, so like everyone else, we're fighting on two fronts. He is not alone. But as costs increase dramatically, we work hard not to pay them. The other thing is communication with our customers. The media and advertising world has changed a lot in the last 10 years and especially in the last three years. In addition, the way consumers buy groceries is changing dramatically. Lots of people use an app, which means they no longer have to walk down the aisle to see our products or ads.

so what are you doing

Answer: We must remain relevant to these methods. We work with all app makers to ensure good rankings. We use data to improve how you can interact with your consumers and how we can participate in it.

What does it actually look like?

A: When you are in the app, you may see a pop-up ad for us. Or if you're looking for multiple items like beans or rice, see an image of our brand. Another way we see it is that if you've bought our brand on the app before, we want to make sure it's on the recommended items list when you open the app again. One of the things these apps do is display your order from the last time you used it. We want to make sure you're on this list.

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What is it like to work for you?

Answer: All of these efforts are very fragmented at this time. With many of them we are in childhood. We have to choose who we work with. Also, there's Amazon and a lot of people are buying their supplies from Amazon and we have to be a part of that. So things are changing and evolving very quickly, and if you don't keep up, you can't survive. Grocery shopping has a daily time limit. how long We don't know exactly, but we can see an end, so we have to be careful not to hit a dead end.

Where you go?

A: The reality is that we need to stay relevant as consumer preferences change. There is a resurgence in home cooking, but it's also expected to be fairly painless and easy. The days of following a recipe from a book aren't as popular as they used to be. So we know we need to make already measured products and attach detailed instructions. So here we go. We start by making seasoning mixes, kits that will facilitate the cooking of our beans. We have just launched some products and will continue to focus on them in the new year.

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