Produce sales challenging in land of sunshine - The Packer

Produce sales challenging in land of sunshine

01/05/2011 01:22:02 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

“Everyone I talk with tells me that business is still slow. People have to eat but everyone’s definitely cutting back on everything.”

Roy Kane, vice president and managing partner of Coosemans Tampa Inc., said the region is showing signs of strength.

“Obviously, unemployment is high and people are struggling, but we’re starting to see an uptick,” he said.

“Things are starting to get a little better. In talking with local restaurant and hotel people, they are seeing a decent market as far as their increases in day to day business.”
Orlando, known for Mickey Mouse, numerous other attractions like SeaWorld and Universal Studios and its booming convention business hasn’t been immune from the economic slowdown.

U.S. Foodservice Inc., Rosemont, Ill., serves the magical city’s many attractions, hotels and restaurants through operations in nearby Port Orange, Fla., and Lakeland.

Robert Ondrus, U.S. Foodservice’s director of category management, said the theme parks do a lot of business and it’s business earned because families save for years to make the trip to Orlando and research other activities available in the region.

“We are seeing some positive trends (in Orlando),” he said.

“It has been a fairly decent market for us this year. We are looking at some upward trends in the area and see no problems.”

Ondrus said 2010 foodservice sales were higher than they were in 2009.
Jacksonville, northern Florida’s largest metropolitan area, is poised for an economic comeback, said Larry Movsovitz, chairman and managing director of Produce Distribution Center LLC, Jacksonville.

“The general wholesale business is slow,” he said.

“But it seems like people are out shopping and are going to restaurants. We are getting many business people into Jacksonville. That is helping fill 75% of the restaurants’ business. If and when the economy could turn around, this town is going to be a boom town.”

Though unemployment remains high, Movsovitz said moderately priced restaurants are doing satisfactory sales compared to the 50% to 60% of sales they did in 2009.

“The restaurants are holding pretty well while the beach resorts are hurting pretty bad,” Movsovitz said.

Jacksonville residents aren’t spending as much money as they could, he said.

Movsovitz said smaller and independent retail chains are selling about half as much produce as they could be selling compared to the larger national and regional chains.

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