Healthy eating, economy drive produce through the Twin Cities

05/28/2014 01:34:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

The Twin Cities fresh produce market is healthy, both in terms of the economy and consumer demand.

“Overall, the Minnesota economy is healthier than that of the average city and state,” said Phillip Brooks, chief executive officer of H. Brooks & Co., New Brighton, Minn.

Others agree.

“In general, we think the economy is booming. We’re constantly looking for people to work, so if you want to be working, you can be,” said Brian Hauge, president of Wholesale Produce, Minneapolis.

 

Growth mode

The unemployment for the Minneapolis/St. Paul/Bloomington metro area was 4.9%, according to the March 2014 rankings of major U.S. metropolitan areas from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This is the fourth-lowest rate in rankings from major metro areas across the U.S.

Jeff Swanson, director of corporate communications for Supervalu Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn., said he also thinks the general trend of the economy is positive, despite some lingering effects of the recession.

“Like any strong metropolitan area, there is still some economic recovery taking place, but we think it’s a pretty strong, vibrant community,” Swanson said.

That healthy economy drives produce sales in the area.

“There’s a very strong produce market in the Twin Cities,” Swanson said.

 

Health focus

Healthy eating trends also lead produce sales to stay strong in the area, shippers said.

Adam Gamble, president of Russ Davis Wholesale, Wadena, Minn., credits this trend to the area’s population of highly educated consumers.

“We’ve seen fresh produce sales follow healthy eating trends in those higher educated areas like California and it’s growing here, too,” Gamble said.

Hauge agreed.

“There is a diverse population here, and a lot of educated individuals with health and wellness in mind,” he said.

 

Trending upward

Suppliers are excited about their place in the Twin Cities market, which they say has growing demand for fresh produce, whether local, organic or otherwise.

“We’re helping our customers have better sell-through by supporting them with fresh logistics, great products and helping make [a healthy lifestyle] easier for consumers,” Brooks said.

Produce suppliers expect to see these upward trends continue in their area.

Overall, Brooks said he’s pleased with the movement of produce through the market.

“I predict good things for the category in the future,” Brooks said.



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