“Years back (buyers) would come down to the market and they would just buy stuff, and now they want to make sure they have two pallets of grapes at this price,” he said.
Working with independent retailers to set up advance pricing means communicating those needs to shippers, he said.
Everyday Fresh enters mainstream
Steve Chmelovsky Jr. will join Everyday Fresh Produce Inc. on a full time basis after his graduation from college in May, said father Steve Chmelovsky, president and chief executive officer of the company.
The senior Chmelovsky said the wholesaler specializes in Indian, Hispanic and Asian produce but has started to add mainstream commodities, including lemons, blueberries and mangoes, to its mix.
“Asian and Indian consumers are not regular customers of apples, grapes and pears, but we are starting to open up our line a little bit,” he said.
The firm has added persimmons from Spain, boosted volume of maradol papayas and expanded year-round imports of mangoes, he said.
J.L. Gonzalez adds doors on market
J.L. Gonzalez is now perhaps the largest Mexican-oriented distributor in the Chicago area, said Jason Gonzalez, transportation manager.
Acquiring a portion of the market previously occupied by World Wide Produce has allowed the company to grow, he said.
The firm previously operated doors 11 through 19 on the market and now operates from doors 1 through 20, Gonzalez said. Before, the company had units 5, 6 and 7 on the market and as of mid-November they operated units 1 through 7, he said.
The firm, founded in 1993, distributes Mexican produce grown by the company’s sister company in Edinburg, Texas, Gonzalez said.
The firm specializes in premium Mexican produce, including avocados, cilantro and tomatillos.
Gonzalez said the firm plans to expand its sales effort but will continue to focus on Mexican produce.
Panama Banana goes beyond bananas
With the acquisition of additional units at the Chicago International Produce Market and veteran produce salesmen, Panama Banana has become about much more than the yellow fruit that remains its logo.
“We were primarily just tropical fruit before, but now we have a complete line of fruits and vegetables,” said Deke Pappas, co-owner of Panama Banana.
Along with gaining space formerly occupied by the Auster Co. Inc. in 2010, Panama Banana also hired fruit salesmen Tommy Durante and Nick Florek, formerly with Auster.
Pappas said those hires brought Panama Banana the capabilities of a full-line fruit house, and the September hire of veteran vegetable salesman Dean Kennelly provided the wholesaler with new vegetable accounts.