Fresh produce foodservice sales sizzle in Atlanta - The Packer

Fresh produce foodservice sales sizzle in Atlanta

08/20/2014 08:53:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

ATLANTA — In Atlanta, foodservice sales are hot.

Produce distributors report thriving demand from the metropolitan area’s many eateries and institutions.

“For Atlanta, the restaurant scene is about as vibrant as it’s been,” said Robert Poole, director of sales for Athena Farms, Forest Park.

“Atlanta is growing and it’s a good time to be in the business. My impression is that there are more and more unique restaurants than ever before.”

Foodservice movement on the Atlanta State Farmers Market in Forest Park remains strong, said David Collins III, president of Forest Park-based Phoenix Wholesale Foodservice Inc.

“Atlanta is continuing to grow and there are a lot of new restaurants opening,” he said. “You’re seeing new opportunities in this business. I think Atlanta has always had one of the highest per capita of people who go out and eat.”

A lifelong Atlanta resident, Collins said he has never seen a time when there wasn’t a crane in the sky working on a new development somewhere, even during the worst of times.

Those restaurants consume large amounts of conventional and specialty produce, said Brian Young, vice president of Coosemans Atlanta Inc.

“There are a ton of restaurants here and everyone seems to be busy,” he said.

“There are many high-end establishments. Some of the talent you get inside these kitchens is great. The chefs are artists in their own realm. There are so many ways to experience the presentation, the taste and the texture of the foods they create. There are so many good restaurants here and they are always busy.”

Young said the increased restaurant activity may be limited to inside the Interstate 285 perimeter.

Business in the suburban and other areas, however, remains status quo, he said.

Diana Earwood, vice president and general manager of the produce division of Sutherland’s Foodservice Inc. and general manager of Destiny Organics LLC in Forest Park, said foodservice sales are all about relationships.

“Foodservice sales are growing,” she said. “New customers are coming on board plus there are growth opportunities for the existing ones.”

Restaurants appear to be doing OK, said Nickey Gregory, president and owner of Nickey Gregory Co. LLC.

“Foodservice business is still decent but it’s not like it was in the past,” he said.

“Atlanta has gotten to where more people are passing through here en route to the north Georgia mountains, so that also helps keep the restaurants busy.”

Foodservice sales remain consistent, said Cliff Sherman, owner of Sunbelt Produce Distributors Inc. in Forest Park.

“It’s doing well,” he said. “Around the town, the restaurants are busy. Some purveyors are happy while others are not. It kind of balances out. This guy a year ago was really busy but isn’t now, while this one that’s really busy now wasn’t a year ago.”



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