Baird delivers product to customers in the Tampa, Lakeland and Orlando area and customers from Miami, Fort Myers and Jacksonville send their trucks to Baird’s operation on the Tampa Wholesale Produce Market.
With all of its theme parks and tourist destinations, the city that Disney built keeps foodservice distributors such as Harvill’s Produce Co. busy serving the area’s many eateries, hotels and resorts.
As most people concentrated on Christmas and other holiday activities, foodservice sales remained consistent in December when the hotels and theme parks begin seeing more visitors, said Ernie Harvill, president.
The busiest time for Orlando-area foodservice distributors starts in February and runs to the end of summer, he said.
“Demand here is decent,” Harvill said in late January. “We serve everyone from small sandwich shops to the theme parks. Business if fair. It isn’t bad but it’s not great. It’s busy enough, though.”
Harvill said there isn’t much industry in Orlando which is a metropolitan area driven by tourism.
In the state’s most northern metropolitan area, produce distribution remains consistent yet challenging at the same time, said Matt Wasson, vice president, owner and operator of The Garden Wholesale Produce Inc., in Jacksonville.
Produce demand remains solid but changes the city has seen in its produce distribution companies have affected business, he said.
“Overall, the economy is still tight but we have been blessed to gain market share through the various industry changes,” Wasson said. “There hasn’t been a lot of growth overall in the city. Produce business is status quo.”
Three major local suppliers historically served Jacksonville.
Today, while that number is the same, only two are headquartered in the city, Wasson said.