ATLANTA — It’s unknown how the Castellini Co.’s entrance into the Atlanta market could affect produce wholesaling.
In May, Castellini purchased Atlanta-based General Produce Inc.
Distributors on the Atlanta State Farmers Market in Forest Park welcome the Cincinnati-based Castellini’s trek south but say they’re unsure how the expansion could affect the overall market.
“We have no clue what could happen,” said Robert Poole, director of sales for Athena Farms in Forest Park. “We wish them well. The competition only makes us better.”
Castellini’s entrance demonstrates the importance of Atlanta to southeastern distribution, said Nickey Gregory, president and owner of Nickey Gregory Co. LLC.
“It shows you the South is growing,” he said.
“Those guys are looking for opportunities as the South keeps growing more and more.”
Gregory said Castellini is a longtime respected produce distributor and said he and other distributors are looking forward to the transition.
David Collins III, president of Forest Park-based Phoenix Wholesale Foodservice Inc., said he was friends with Hiram Folds before Folds started General Produce in 1960.
Collins said he understands Folds, who died in January, was in talks with Castellini about selling the company during 2013.
In Cincinnati, Castellini possesses a retail presence, Collins said.
“What their emphasis will be down here is a little bit unknown,” he said.
“They’ve been around for a while. They’re an old-line company that has been in business for some time. How it will change the culture or atmosphere remains to be seen. We will welcome them and try to be good neighbors to them.”
Overall, wholesalers view the move favorably, said Brian Young, vice president of Coosemans Atlanta Inc.
Surprisingly, the ownership change hasn’t been a big topic of discussion, he said.
“There hasn’t been a whole lot of talk about it on the market,” Young said. “People are sitting back and will see how they blend the two operations together. Overall, we view it as a good opportunity for additional increased business.”
Young said he doesn’t expect any noticeable changes until later in the year.
Many wholesalers trade and sell among themselves when filling orders, so the move should help on that end, he said.
Castellini was founded in 1896 on the original Cincinnati produce terminal market.
The family-owned company distributes a full line of fresh fruits and vegetables and organics and is also involved in tomato repacking, fresh-cut processing and logistics.
Also family owned, General Produce distributes a full line of product to 11 southeastern states, from south Florida to Louisiana, Kentucky and West Virginia.