Demand for locally grown grows in Boston

03/30/2010 11:20:05 AM
Andy Nelson

The company ships mcintoshes, red and golden delicious, empires, galas and other varieties, typically into June, he said.

“I’m getting more shippers who want to ship to me,” he said. “I’ve had to tell some of them I can’t. You can only sell so many apples in Boston.”

“They keep moving,” owner Frank Lisitano said on a late February day in which four pallets of locally grown storage apples shipped out of the Lisitano ware-house.

And it’s not just apples, Amidan said.

“Last year we sold lots and lots of peaches,” he said, citing growers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

In season, Amidon also sells corn, squash, vine-ripe tomatoes and other vegetables grown in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Maine.

Peter Condakes Co. Inc. is looking for a local supplier of grape and plum tomatoes from July 15 to Oct. 1, said Peter John Condakes, the company’s president.

 High freight costs from the West Coast are one of the main reasons Peter Condakes Co. is seeking a source closer to home, Condakes said.

One sticking point, he said, is volume.

“Some of our customers have said that if we could find a big enough guy, they would do it,” he said. “I’m sure there’s someone out there. I just haven’t found him yet.”

Another sticking point is food safety. Locally grown is well and good, Condakes said, but the same customers who want local also demand strict food safety protocols — something, he said, it’s not always as easy for local growers to comply with as it is for major grower-shippers.

BC Produce Inc. doesn’t deal directly with growers as local as Massachusetts, New Hampshire or another neighboring state, but the company does source a significant number of potatoes from nearby Quebec and apples from New York, said Sam Rocco, the com-pany’s president.

Even as nearby as Massachusetts, there’s still a prejudice in favor of Washington-grown apples, Rocco said.  And while that attitude may been more warranted in the past, it’s less so now.

“I think the New York apple industry is really growing up,” he said. “They’re getting better and better. I like New York galas better than Washington galas.”

Red delicious is another New York-grown variety that’s seen marked improvement, Rocco said.

Still, not all East Coast consumers are convinced, he said.

“People feel like they should pay less for New York,” he said. “And Washington could be (up to) 40% higher and they’d still take them.”


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