Nutritional benefits of produce help wholesalers cash in

01/19/2012 05:23:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Specialties demand remains strong, said Jack Scalisi, president of Jack T. Scalisi Wholesale Produce Distributors, West Palm Beach.

“We are selling more specialties than ever with the lines we handle,” Scalisi said. “We get a lot of trade coming in from Europe. They want all the different items like endives and salsify, the oyster root item from Belgium.

“Specialties are definitely making a big comeback.”

Scalisi sells a variety of specialties, including microsprouts, exotic mushrooms and heirloom tomatoes.

Increasing consumption should benefit the industry but not every part of the deal, said Seth Movsovitz, vice president and part owner of Produce Distribution Center LLC, Jacksonville.

“It will probably grow in certain areas more so than others,” he said. “It’s not as inexpensive as it used to be, and it adds up for an average family to go to a grocery store and purchase fresh produce. They don’t buy as much when adverse market conditions cause higher prices.”

The Produce Distribution Center trucks produce along the northern Florida East Coast, to north central Florida customers in Gainesville, west to Lake City, at Interstate 75, and to Brunswick, Ga.-area foodservice customers.

James Killebrew, vice president of Baird Produce Inc., called specialties demand slow.

“It does pick up a little this time of the year, as there are more people here, the snowbirds,” he said in mid-December. “But overall, it’s down a little like everything else because it’s a higher-end item.”

Killebrew characterized specialties demand declining by as much as 20%.


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