A massive snow storm that paralyzed the Northeast caused problems for wholesalers.
Because it hit on the Feb. 8-9 weekend — dumping up to three feet of snow on some areas of New York and New England — the storm didn’t cause as many delivery headaches, said Jeff Young, fruit buyer for A&J Produce Corp. at Hunt’s Point Terminal Market in the Bronx.
Young said the market escaped damage but said distributors didn’t send trucks to customers in parts of Long Island and in Connecticut because those areas were buried in snow.
Young“It slowed business a little,” Young said in mid-February. “We couldn’t deliver to certain people. The snowstorm gave us a little burst in our retail business because the stores got jammed prior to and the day of the storm. The stores were mobbed and we got a lot of unexpected orders.”
Joel Panagakos, sales ambassador for J. Kings Foodservice Professionals Inc., Holtsville, N.Y., said 28 inches of snow fell its Long Island distribution center. The company contacted customers and rescheduled Feb. 9 deliveries to Feb. 8. Business returned on Feb. 11, but with schools still closed, sales dropped 25%.
“Of all the trailers usually due in on a Sunday, we only missed one California load that got hung up,” Panagakos said Feb. 12. “It arrived Monday instead of Sunday. We were in good shape with receiving all the product and overall, we weathered the storm.”
Robert Verloop, executive vice president of marketing for Naturipe Farms LLC’s western division in Salinas, Calif., said California berry shippers experienced small disruptions. (Story, B5)
“There were some minor delays but nothing catastrophic,” he said Feb. 12. “If you look at the way the industry was prepared, I think the retailers did a nice job the best they could to prepare.”
Calvert Cullen, president of Cheriton, Va.-based Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc., which distributes from Florida, said the storm affected demand.
“It really slowed volume,” he said Feb. 11. “We started seeing a slowing a little prior. Some of the retailers were cutting back because they didn’t know if the trucks would make it.”
Instead of ordering truckloads, Cullen said retailers either cancelled or cut orders in half.
Peter John Condakes, president of Peter Condakes Co. Inc., Chelsea, Mass., said distributors on the New England Produce Market fared well, despite hurricane-strength winds and power outages to coastal areas.
The market didn’t lose power but Condakes said business dropped when the state government closed roads.
“Admittedly, it was a big storm but we are doing okay,” Condakes said Feb. 11. “We’re geared in New England for winter and fortunately, we’re not right on the coast which got hurt worse.”
Condakes said retailers rescheduled their deliveries.
Laura Sullivan, executive director of the New England Produce Council, Burlington, Mass., noted how one retail executive, Tom Murray, vice president of produce and floral for Roche Bros. Supermarkets Inc., Wellesley, Mass., worked during the storm.
“He was quite busy trying to keep the shelves stocked,” Sullivan said. “He went into some of the stores to be hands-on and help out. It was a mad dash to the supermarkets here.”