VofV: Hadley Date Gardens President and Western Growers Chair Albert Keck on the Future of Specialty Crops

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Podcasts, Technology

Date Gardens

This episode of the Voices of the Valley podcast is brought to you today by the Western Growers Association. Supporting producers that grow the best medicine in the world. Find out more at WGA.com.

Albert Keck, President of Hadley Date Gardens and current Western Growers Chair of the Board of Directors, joins the podcast to talk about his family’s history in farming and how his decades of experience in the industry leads him to believe that the future could be bright for specialty crops. 

“You want to talk about pessimism? When I was a kid all I could hear from the industry was: ‘Only old people eat dates’ and ‘All our customers are dying.’ It was like Eeyore in ‘Winnie the Pooh.’ Everything was negative,” Albert says. “What we’ve found recently, the Millennials – God bless them, for all the hassles they throw on us – they’re all healthy eaters. When I was going up we ate Cheetos and Doritos and hot dogs. And now the young adults want to have healthy food and real food. They are very conscious of what they eat and where it is grown.”

It’s this change in consumer taste that Albert believes will define the coming years for fruit and vegetable growers – if the political landscape can work to empower domestic farmers. “We’re out there banging on the drum to all of our political representatives, saying ‘Hey, you keep throwing stuff at us – the ideals are not necessarily bad, we agree with a lot of the ideals – but we’re in a global marketplace that doesn’t care about those ideals,'” he says. “It seems like more and more a lot of our political system is definitely hamstringing domestic production. And so that’s something we have to contend with as a culture. Are we going to want to grow these crops domestically, or do we just not care?”

Albert will rejoin the podcast next week for Part Two of his interview