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7th Generation Canning Business Still Going Strong
Shawnee Springs Market & Cannery is a 7th-generation family business that specializes in producing small batches of jams, apple butter and other canned fruits and vegetables and then private labeling the containers for hundreds of independent farm markets in 26 states.
“Our business was up 40 percent in 2020 and it looks like it’ll be up at least 30 percent in 2021,” says Bob Daniels, Sales Manager of Shawnee Canning, Cross Junction, Va. He believes farm markets continue to thrive because their products are fresh and wholesome and, more importantly, their customers quickly discover that farm markets are owned and operated “by nice people who know how to treat their customers right”.
Shawnee Springs’ roots go back to the early 1800’s when the Whitacre and Braithwaite families emigrated to the Shenandoah Valley and opened a tomato cannery in Whitacre, Va. In 1903, George Whitacre and his son Lee started their first apple orchard. The company’s first roadside market stand, which offered apples, peaches, pears, plums, sweet corn and other vegetables, was opened in 1958.
In 1966, William Lee and George B. Whitacre purchased Shawnee Canning Co. and moved their roadside stand to the front of the building, creating Shawnee Springs Market. In 1987, Lisa Whitacre Johnson (6th generation), daughter of William, returned to the family business to take over operation of the roadside market, which also sells fuel and prepared foods. A second retail location was opened in Winchester, Va. in 2020. Two of Lisa’s sons, Scott and Alex Johnson, fill management positions with the company.
Today, the canning side of Shawnee Springs specializes in private-label jams, jellies, fruit butters, salsa, barbecue sauce, pickles, olive oil and pasta sauces. Its customer base is primarily independent farm markets in 26 states that have created their own “private label” for canned products from Shawnee Springs and sell these products (along with local produce) at their markets.
“Because of our strong track record of working with farm markets, we’re able to help customers get started right with our private-label products,” Daniels says. “We are able to help them flatten the learning curve by advising them about pricing and merchandising. Our products can’t help a failing business, but we can help a successful business become even more successful.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Shawnee Springs, 231 Cross Junction Road, Cross Junction, Va. 22625 (ph 800 713-1414; www.shawneesprings.com).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #5