History of Lancaster Foods

Before there was Lancaster Foods, there were brothers John and Dave Gates, budding high school entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity in their hometown of Altoona, Pennsylvania, to market fresh produce and flowers. Starting with just two retail locations in Altoona and Chambersburg and rapidly expanding to farmers market tents at regional shopping malls, the Gates brothers quickly built a reputation for having the best produce in town. With their acquisition of Lancaster Seafood in 1986, the story of Lancaster Foods began.

Operations soon moved to Frederick, Maryland, and although the company discontinued the seafood business, the fresh produce trade thrived. After spending the early years working with local orchards and produce wholesalers, John and Dave combined their experience, knowledge, and love for the industry with a groundbreaking idea—they would offer weekend delivery, something no one else was doing at the time. This type of forward thinking allowed Lancaster Foods to become a 24/7 operation and laid the foundation for a company built on providing unrivaled customer service.

As business picked up steam and grew throughout the mid-Atlantic, Lancaster Foods moved in 1989 to the heart of the Maryland Produce Zone in Jessup, Maryland, where it soon caught the eye of Guest Services, Inc., a hospitality management company based in Fairfax, Virginia, and in 1992, Guest Services acquired Lancaster Foods. While ownership may have changed hands, company leadership did not. John and Dave remain at the helm and it is their vision and guiding principle of “Best Quality. Fastest Service.” that continues to shape the company into a leading buyer and shipper of fresh produce with national reach.

Today, Lancaster Foods operates a 220,000-square-foot state-of-the-art distribution and processing center in Jessup, where the company took up residence in 2008. With nearly 700 employees, the company remains a leading diversified produce wholesaler, whose value-added services sets it apart. From consumer-ready packages to specialty packaging to fresh-cut offerings, Lancaster Foods delivers innovative, customized solutions that meet the specific needs of its customers and consumers.

Every day, over 100 trucks run from Maine to Florida with heavy concentration in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., all to meet needs of retail customers with what they want, when they want it.

This forward-thinking, knowledge, and history have built Lancaster Foods into a leader in procuring the freshest and finest produce, both domestically and internationally, organic and conventional, and as an innovator in value-added services. Lancaster Foods does all of this with unbeatable time-sensitive speed to market.