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Produce to Produce

Warning: touchy subject ahead. I am talking about produce. They’re green, leafy and guaranteed to be rejected by children everywhere. They are also good for you and we want you to eat them … even if you are stationed in, say, Korea. No matter where you are stationed, our goal is to provide patrons with top-quality products at unbeatable savings, delivered with world-class customer service. So let’s explain why you might have some heart-ache with products that are supposed to make your heart great.

Before Nov. 1, 2015, suppliers delivered to only U.S. ports where the items then traveled to the Pacific, mostly via ocean-bound transports. The old process significantly reduced the shelf life of produce such as the bananas grown in South America. These were delivered to the port on the U.S. West Coast, placed on a ship, and sent to commissaries throughout the Pacific region. Today, bananas can be shipped directly from South America to Guam, Japan or South Korea without entering the U.S. Our business model for Pacific-area commissaries is aimed at improving the quality and shelf life of produce, thanks to a new process allowing suppliers to deliver produce directly to commissaries from the geographic area where it is grown or produced.

Our contract does not permit the comparison of produce items in the Pacific to prices in the U.S. First, it is not a requirement of the contract that produce originate from the United States, as the produce utilized within the commissary is not exclusively available from the U.S. Today’s consumers want a variety of produce from a diverse population of countries. Shipping the product from one country to the U.S., only to have it shipped to the Pacific, would increase the cost exponentially. In addition to the fact that produce is an extremely delicate product. Excess handling and changes in the supply chain temperature can cause produce to deteriorate in a matter of hours. Shipping directly from the country where the produce is grown to the Pacific is the most efficient and cost effective method. For these reasons, our contract does not permit the comparison of prices in the U.S. to stores in the Pacific, as it would never be accurate. A more precise method of comparison is to stores within the local economy.

Another reason that produce does not originate from the U.S. is based upon seasonality. Strawberries that are very plentiful from the West Coast of the U.S. during the spring and summer months, become non-existent during the fall and winter. However, they can be procured from countries such as South America and New Zealand. With the explosion of transportation and trading between countries, virtually all produce items that were once only available on a seasonal basis, can now be procured throughout the year. As stated above, product that is procured from alternate countries ships directly to the Pacific to save time, money and increase quality.

We are still working through the kinks of our new contract. A complete new method while take an extended time to iron out. However, our mission remains the same. As required by Congress, we are committed to providing an average patron savings in order to maintain readiness and improve the lifestyle of our veterans and their families. Work with us to bring DeCA into the 21st century along with America’s military.

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