With more operators carrying more produce options, diligence is required to make sure that buyers who move from dealer to dealer are good credit risks, he said.
“There are less vendors today selling more items than the product lines it used to be,” said Deke Pappas, co-owner of Panama Banana. “We are all kind of stepping on each other’s toes, which allows independents to come in to make some tremendous buys.”
Pappas said independents are looking for pricing commitment, but wholesalers face a fluid market, he said, with overnight price variations caused by many vendors selling the same products.
The market is in good shape and remains in a strong competitive position, said Lisa Strube, director of finance for Strube Celery & Vegetable Co.
Strong wholesale market operators are needed, even by retailers who increasingly depend on direct shipments from shippers, said Ed Romanelli, vice president of sales and marketing with Agrow Fresh, who notes retailers have to space their orders far out in advance and can be caught short.
“You are missing out on business at retail if you don’t have product in the warehouse,” Romanelli said.