Boston’s population demands good quality and good value in its produce. Those demands were magnified by the economic recession and recent spikes in produce prices.
Henry Wainer, president of specialty produce distributor Sid Wainer & Son, New Bedford, Mass., characterized Boston as a well-educated marketplace with strong demand for high-quality produce.
Boston’s foodservice market contains affluent restaurants as well as colleges and universities that demand high-quality and healthful products.
The recession and recent high prices have caused Boston’s produce buyers and consumers to be more value-oriented.
That has affected buying, especially when prices rose following disruptions in supply after freezes in Mexico and Florida. Some restaurants stopped buying some types of produce when prices got too high.
Produce salesmen said their companies stick to core values and practices as a strategy for getting through the recession and dealing with decreased sales.
Finding a niche and focusing on it helps South Dennis, Mass.-based Ring Bros. Wholesale compete, said Ed Ring, co-owner.
Some who sell to foodservice buyers and chefs said Boston’s restaurants are still struggling to bring in customers on weekdays. Most weren’t ready to say the economy is recovering, but some were more hopeful.
Even in this value-conscious climate, there is good demand for specialty produce.
Chefs want specialty items to help set their restaurants apart from competitors’, and consumers want to experiment at home with specialty items they’ve seen in restaurants or elsewhere.
Sid Wainer, Ring Bros., and Chelsea, Mass.-based Coosemans Boston Inc. carry many specialty produce items.