Sales clouded for Sunshine State industry

02/24/2013 07:02:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

“Our sales have been pretty good,” said Louis Garcia Jr., president.

“But we have to be more aggressive. Everyone’s complaining about how slow it is in the restaurants and how there aren’t as many people going as there should be, but complaining is natural. People complain when business is slow and when they’re busy. We aren’t complaining and I think the economy is a little better.”

In the land of Mickey Mouse, central Florida’s numerous tourist attractions keep produce distributors busy.

Ernie Harvill, president of Orlando-based Harvill’s Produce Co., said sales to the theme parks, attractions, hotels, restaurants and other eateries connected to tourism remain consistent.

“Business is decent, considering the economy,” he said.

“We have had to take quite a bit of growth just to maintain. We have had to take on more customers to maintain the same sales. Though this area looks busy, it’s just a big area. You get out and the roads seem crowded. Business is just moderate, I’d say.”

Chuck Bruno, vice president and general manager of Riverview-based DiMare Fresh-Tampa Inc., which distributes tomatoes throughout Florida, said Orlando area business is difficult to gauge.

“It drops off certain times of the year and because of tourism, you get an influx,” he said.

“In the summer, the locals hit the beaches. Initially, tourism slowed down. You hear it from the foodservice distributors we deal with.”

In Jacksonville, north Florida’s largest metropolitan area, business remains active in the city’s many restaurants and country clubs, said Abbey Deckman, sales manager for Jacksonville-based Sunrise Produce.

“With the snowbirds, Jacksonville is very similar to south Florida but in reverse,” she said in late December.

“We’re in a slower time now but still it’s been busier than expected. We’ve been seeing an uptick in business week to week. We are very happy with the way things have gone.”


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