Consumers and the food industry alike have fallen in love with “superfoods” – nutrient-rich foods, such as bean sprouts, that can positively impact one’s health. Along with having high levels of chlorophyll and antioxidants, sprouts are rich in protein, vitamins C and K, magnesium, and other nutrients than non-sprouted plants – and they are cost-effective too.
In fact, sprouts were a superfood before the term was coined. When Manny Wong started Fullei Fresh (originally named Fully) in 1978, he was continuing a family tradition of growing bean sprouts. His ancestors grew them in China, and his father had a bean sprout business in Cuba before he moved his family to Miami in 1960. Wong combined time-tested techniques with modern-day technology to build Fullei Fresh from a modest operation catering to Miami’s local Asian community into one of America’s biggest hydroponic sprout growers. Producing over 20 conventional and organic items including sprouts and shoots, wheatgrass and pea tendrils, Fullei Fresh achieves around three million pounds in sales annually, accounting for nearly a quarter share of the U.S. market.
Wong grows his plants in a state-of-the-art, temperature-controlled indoor facility without using any pesticides, additives or preservatives. Additionally, he is deeply focused on food safety. His company is among the few sprout growers to pass the Primus GFS audit, the highly respected global food safety inspection program, and their credentials also include certifications from state and federal agencies as well as organic growers associations.
Recognized as a pioneering expert in his field, Manny Wong was one of only two sprout growers who participated in the formation of the Food and Drug Administration’s Sprout Safety Alliance, and Fullei Fresh’s facility was the first to be in compliance with its requirements. Wong has also taught private and public sector safety inspectors about best practices for growing sprouts and wheatgrass.
For more than four decades leading Fullei Fresh, Wong and his wife, who headed the company’s human resource department, fostered a familial, inclusive environment. And, in 2019, Wong received the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Top Entrepreneurial Award for being a “Corporate Champion for Diversity and Inclusion.” This honor salutes a business for its exceptional record of supporting opportunities for minorities. Many of Fullei Fresh’s 50-person staff hail from Haiti, Cuba, Asian and Latin American countries, with 60 percent of the employees being women.
While Wong and his wife recently announced their retirements, their oldest daughter, Olivia, who has worked at Fullei Fresh for a decade, has stepped in the chief executive officer position. As the company moves into the future, it continues to evolve, developing new products such as sprout powders and growing kits.