Jerry Chadwick, vice president of sales and marketing, said buyers can better source local production by working with distributors that possess expertise in dealing with growers.
“A lot of retailers, if they’re dealing with a small farmer, the product sometimes looks like it came directly from the field, with clumps of dirt on the squash,” he said.
“That’s not what consumers are expecting. They can get that when dealing with small local growers or the product isn’t properly cooled.
“The value we believe we provide is we have the eyes and food safety inspectors and quality control between the grower and the retailer.”
Just because something is marketed as locally grown doesn’t mean distributors automatically accept the product.
“We will take local if it’s better but by the same token, we won’t sell local only because it’s local,” said Tony Vitrano, president of the Tony Vitrano Co., Jessup.
“It’s a question of quality. The quality and availability has to be there.”
Vitrano said the distributor is handling more local produce than it did a decade ago and defines local as product grown within driving distances of several hours.