McCall Farms has come a long way since, as a family business with a 2,000-acre (809-hectare) farm, it switched from growing tobacco to canning vegetables when a new law required tobacco products to be labeled with health warnings. This move turned out to be very good for the business’ own health: today, McCall Farms is one of the USA’s leading providers of farm-fresh canned vegetables and fruit, producing 235 different products at its 93,000 square-meter facility in Effingham, South Carolina, on the northern banks of the Lynches River.
McCall Farms’ wide variety of Southern-style products – all grown in South Carolina and neighboring states – are sold under four major brand names across the USA. The business has now been family owned and run for six generations and employs more than 1,000 people.
It was difficulties such as recruiting and retaining people, however, which prompted McCall’s owners and managers to look for a new way to sort fresh vegetables, including green beans. McCall’s Maintenance Superintendent, Amanda Salisbury, explains: “It’s getting harder for businesses like ours to find and keep people for production line work, particularly for tasks such as sorting. We were having issues with keeping a large enough crew to keep the product free of defects. And even with a large crew of hand-sorters, we weren’t able to keep the product sufficiently defect-free for Grade A product. We needed to shift from manual to automated sorting.”