Icy roadways hammer Atlanta, produce distribution - The Packer

Icy roadways hammer Atlanta, produce distribution

02/12/2014 03:26:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Atlanta wholesalers are battling freezing rain and ice as a second winter storm paralyzes the city and the distributors’ customers.

The winter storm that is also bringing freezing temperatures and snow to the Southeast has slowed produce distribution and has left more than 250,000 Georgians without electrical power.

Atlanta State Farmers Market  Atlanta State Farmers Market logoDavid Collins III, president of Phoenix Wholesale Foodservice Inc., on the Atlanta State Farmers Market in Forest Park, Ga., characterized business at the market as dead.

He said roads are icy and said most everything, including schools, in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area is shut-down because of the hazardous road conditions.

While up to 300 people normally work at his wholesale operation and sister retail distributor, Collins Bros. Corp., on Feb. 12, only three individuals were on the job, Collins said.

The companies delivered to restaurant customers on Feb. 10-11 but didn’t ship anything on Feb. 12.

“Most of the grocery store business seems to be getting wiped-out of everything they have,” he said Feb. 12. “A lot of the independent restaurants are closed while restaurants inside the hotels are trying their best to keep themselves adequately staffed as there are many flight cancellations.”

On Feb. 9, Collins said his company started advising customers to order more than normal in preparation for the storm, which has also struck other parts of the Southeast, including Birmingham, Ala., Memphis, Tenn., and Little Rock, Ark.

Though the market plans to remain open, market manager Paul Thompson said only a handful of businesses remained open on Feb. 12.

“There are a few trucks coming in, people that have been on the road are getting here and settling in for the night,” he said Feb. 12. “We will see when business gets up again.”

The storm is also disrupting shipments from grower-shippers., including tomatoes from the DiMare Co., in Homestead, Fla.

Tony DiMare, vice president, said shipments to Atlanta and other Southeastern cities remain at a standstill.

“Trucks don’t want to deliver product as they’re afraid of the ice,” he said Feb. 11. “This is having many adverse effects on the industry. During the snow event take they had couple of weeks ago, trucks were stranded and product was late in getting delivered. We couldn’t get trucks turned around and back to the f.o.b. end.

“At same time, truck rates went up significantly again this week. It’s a domino effect that’s trickling back to the grower-shipper level.”



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