The company, based at the Chicago International Produce Market, also aims to increase sales of organic products and establish a good leafy item, he said.
Panama Banana Co. adds Hispanic line
Spurred by growth in ethnic markets, Panama Banana Co. will add a permanent representative from an outside supplier to provide a complete line of fresh Hispanic products, including serrano and jalapeno peppers and cilantro, according to Panama Banana sales representative Tom Durante.
The representative, Antonio Bustillo, works for another company, El Granjero, but will be based full-time at Panama Banana’s Chicago International Produce Market, Durante said.
The new representative will allow Panama Banana to bring in product “faster and fresher and always have a full line of product on hand,” he said.
Testa Produce hires sales, truck staff
As hotel and restaurant business improved, Testa Produce, one of the Chicago’s top foodservice distributors, hired about 20 people in sales, trucking and other areas in 2011, company president Peter Testa said in November. Testa has 185 employees.
Recent hires included warehouse manager Glendon Sutliff, who has been “essential to our move to more efficiently run” the facilities, Testa spokeswoman Angela Bader said in a November e-mail.
Testa also promoted Michael Hanser, with the company since 2001, to national accounts sales manager. Previously, he was an account executive.
Last spring, Testa opened a $20.5 million distribution center in an industrial zone on Chicago’s South Side. The new facility includes several “green” features designed to cut pollution and energy use, including a 5,000-gallon rainwater reclamation system, biodiesel refueling stations for trucks and a roof that’s partly-covered by heat-absorbing vegetation.
Over the summer, Testa began generating power from a 238-foot-tall wind turbine, and in the longer term hopes to switch its truck fleet to electric vehicles.
Wal-Mart Stores adds three inner-city outlets
The biggest U.S. food retailer ramped up its Chicago expansion with three smaller-format stores inside the city.
The new stores, two Express locations on the North and South Sides and a Neighborhood Market west of the downtown business district, all feature fresh produce.
Wal-Mart expects to add another six smaller stores at various locations in Chicago by spring 2013, along with a supercenter on the city’s south side. As of November, the Bentonville, Ark.-based company had 20 Chicago-area stores.
Wayne’s World opens office at market
Tomato specialist Wayne’s World opened an office at the Chicago International Produce Market in May, taking over a space previously occupied by Auster Co., which shut down.
Wayne’s World president Wayne Passoff said his company recently added strawberries.