Local retail, foodservice thriving in Boston - The Packer

Local retail, foodservice thriving in Boston

03/22/2012 01:13:00 PM
Andy Nelson

The Boston-area retail grocery and restaurant industries are thriving, wholesalers say.

Attendance at a Northeast foodservice show Henry Wainer went to in mid-March was as high as it’s been in a decade.

If that’s a sign of things to come, the region should be in for a good summer, as restaurants continue to bounce back from the recession, said Wainer, president of New Bedford, Mass.-based Sid Wainer & Son.

“We’re cranking along very nicely and hoping for another good season,” he said.

Both channels have been performing well for Coosemans Boston Inc., Chelsea, Mass., said Maurice Crafts, salesman.

“We’re pleased with both foodservice and retail,” Crafts said.

“More of our business is foodservice, but they’re doing equally well.”

Some of Coosemans’ big sellers, like avocados, hydroponic lettuce, fingerling potatoes and radicchio, do well at retail and foodservice, Crafts said.

Others, such as spring mix, are a better fit for foodservice because of packaging limitations.

“We do the 3- and 4-pound packs, but not clamshells” on spring mix, Crafts said.

The Boston-area restaurant industry, after a fallow period, seems to be in good shape now, Crafts said.

“The last couple of years, it may not have been the case, but they seem to be doing fine now,” he said.

“Everyone’s confident that things are getting better.”

More and more, Crafts sees area chefs shopping on the terminal market. And new restaurants have started opening in Boston again.  

The retail and foodservice sectors have felt the effects of an economy that is still sluggish, despite recent employment and other news to the contrary, said Steven Piazza, president and treasurer of Everett, Mass.-based Community-Suffolk Inc.

Everyone’s looking for value, Piazza said. If a good deal pops up, Boston-area grocery stores and restaurants are all over it, he said.

High-priced or even normally priced items are another story.

Promotions

On the retail end, many area stores are running “Wacky Wednesday” promotions (or less colorfully named weekend versions of the same thing) to move big volumes of staples consumers can afford, Piazza said.

Foodservice

In foodservice, many area restaurants are running price-fixed menus to keep costs down, he said.

That belt-tightening trickles down to the wholesale produce level.

Constant promotions are once again a hallmark of the Boston-area retail grocery market, said Richie Travers, treasurer and secretary of Chelsea-based Travers Fruit Co.


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