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Packaged salad industry innovator Steve Taylor dies at 67

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Steve Taylor, a pioneer in the bagged salad industry, passed away on Sunday in Denver due to lung and heart failure. Taylor created and developed products that focused on consumer convenience as the CEO of Fresh Express. He was 67.

Taylor grew up in California’s Salinas Valley agricultural industry. He attended Salinas High School and, later, University of California Berkeley, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in psychology in 1978. Taylor also attended Harvard Business School, earning a Master of Business Administration in 1985.

Steve Taylor
Steve Taylor

In 1978, Edward “Ted” Taylor, Steve Taylor’s father, founded Red Coach Foods and began selling packaged, shredded lettuce and other raw produce to food services. In 1981, Ted Taylor tasked his son to manage efforts to market packaged salads via retail outlets. At the time, quality materials were unavailable to provide adequate shelf life. However, upon returning to Red Coach after college, Steve Taylor discovered that newer materials could help with packaging and marketing salads with a sufficient shelf life.

After Red Coach was renamed Fresh Express, the company began putting weight behind its consumer-packaged salad products. Between 1991 and 1994, Fresh Express increased revenue six-fold.

Steve Taylor became CEO and chairman of Fresh Express in 1993 after his father passed away. After reaching $550 million in sales, the company was sold in 2001 for about $300 million.

In 2006, Taylor and partners from Fresh Express started Organic Girl’s organic salads.

According to his obituary, “He will be best remembered for his love of Jesus, his sense of humor, which allowed him to bring levity to any situation, his service to the church, and a passion for preserving and transforming American culture for future generations through political and government engagement. Mr. Taylor was involved in various ministries and ministry boards.”

Taylor leaves behind his wife of 43 years, Kate, their three children, their spouses, and his nine grandchildren. He is survived by his mother, Joann Taylor, brother Bruce Taylor, and sister Carrie Taylor.

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