DURHAM, NC. — A new strawberry is debuting in the freezer section. Described as the “Honeycrisp of strawberries,” the Ruby June variety has a deep dark red hue and “sweet, luscious flavor,” according to Durham-based produce company Seal the Seasons.
Founded in 2014, Seal the Seasons has pioneered a “locally grown, locally frozen and locally sold” fruit and vegetable platform. Founders Patrick Mateer and Alex Piasecki launched the business while attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The company supports more than 70 farms and uses more than a dozen freezing and packing sites across the United States. Seal the Seasons products are sold in 5,000 retail locations, with a handful of stock-keeping units available in each region where the company operates.
Developed by Lassen Canyon Nursery, Ruby June is 50% sweeter than commercial strawberry varieties that are traditionally frozen, such as Camino Reals or Ambrosias, as measured on the Brix sweetness scale. Ron and Teresa Cottle grew the strawberries distributed by Seal the Seasons on a North Carolina farm.
“Several years ago, we decided to go after a more flavorful berry,” Ms. Cottle said. “After multiple varietal testings, we found the perfect variety, Ruby June. Ruby June has an excellent flavor profile, and great characteristics such as size, color, and most importantly flavor.”
Seal the Seasons’ Ruby June strawberries will launch in 1,500 retail stores along the East Coast, including Harris Teeter, Wegmans, Food Lion, Whole Foods, Lowes Foods, Ingles Markets and Weaver Street Market Co-op.“I am so proud of our team’s hard work over the last 12 months to bring this variety to market,” said Mr. Mateer, chief executive officer of Seal the Seasons. “It took careful planning with Ron and Teresa over at Cottle Farms to grow the hundreds of thousands of pounds needed for our customers.”
Local sourcing is a key differentiator as food systems are forced to adapt to inflation, supply chain disruptions, transportation limitations and more, said Alexander Borschow, co-founder and managing partner at Semillero Partners, a venture capital firm investing in early and growth-stage food and technology startups.
“Seal the Seasons is a prime example of a food industry disruptor,” Mr. Borschow said. “Working closely with local farmers to bring innovative produce like Ruby June strawberries to market, the company takes a collaborative approach that better supports and develops local and regional food systems while reaching broader buying audiences. As an early investor in the company, we are looking forward to seeing Ruby June strawberries, and other innovations from Seal the Seasons, on more shelves in the coming years.”