Califonia Bountiful

Family produce business spans generations

In the early morning hours, the folks at General Produce Co. do what the company has been doing every morning for 75 years: delivering fresh fruits and vegetables.

In the wee hours of the morning, the folks at General Produce Co. do what the Sacramento-based company has been doing every morning for the past 75 years: delivering to their customers fresh fruits and vegetables--most of which are grown in California.

"Because of the prime areas, and the soil, and the fertile land, we're able to grow a lot of commodities on a year round basis. And I think California, because we are the growing source for most of America, we have produce available every day of the year here, locally harvested. We can get it to the stores within 24 hours and to the restaurants within 24 hours," Daniel Chan, president of General Produce, said.

Dan and his cousin, Thomas Chan, are among the third generation to run this family business. Their grandfather started it in 1933, turning it over to his sons, the fathers of Tom and Dan.

"It's actually quite remarkable the business is in its third generation. Danny and I have been back in the business now for close to 30 years. Again, it's a credit to some of the values and traditions that were handed down by our grandfather and fathers and uncles and down to us. And I think the other part is the great group of people that we have to work with," Thomas Chan said.

Those people include the hundreds of customers General Produce has cultivated during the years, many of whom require deliveries before the sun is up--six or seven days a week. Those customers include the owners of the popular Sacramento restaurant, Lemon Grass.

"We use a lot of fruits and vegetables in our traditional cuisine, and what we do here is that we take very wonderful, authentic flavors and match them up with all the wonderful ingredients that we can get in California," Mai Pham, chef and owner of Lemon Grass, said.

Despite the seemingly large volume of fruits and vegetables that are served by restaurants like Lemon Grass, surprisingly it only represents about a third of the product distributed by General Produce. Better than 55 percent of the company's products are delivered to supermarkets, again six to seven days a week, because customers like Payless Supermarkets have a clientele that demands freshness.

And thanks to the folks at General Produce, customers can enjoy fresh California produce from some of the state's finest farms, any time of the day.

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