Produce in the Heartland weathers economy just fine - The Packer

Produce in the Heartland weathers economy just fine

09/18/2009 02:36:12 PM
Bob Luder

Those in the industry in other parts of the heartland also have held up in these rough economic times.

Des Moines and Norwalk, Iowa

Despite having a majority of its business tied up in foodservice, Des Moines, Iowa-based Loffredo Fresh Produce Co. Inc. still reports that its bottom line improved over the last year.

“The retail market is flat from last year, but certainly up compared with foodservice,” said Gene Loffredo, president and chief executive officer and part of the fourth generation of a family that’s owned the business since 1892.

“We’re down about 5% with restaurants. However, because of retail, we’re up overall. Diversity is important to us, and today it’s more important than ever.”

Loffredo said he’s especially optimistic about the future of his business in fresh-cut.

Capital City Fruit Co. Inc., Norwalk, Iowa, which does a bulk of its business in tomatoes, was hit hard last summer by the Salmonella Saintpaul scare, but chief operating officer Brendan Comito said the company was bouncing back in the new fiscal year.

“We lost some competition, because a couple locals here closed down,” he said. “It’s gotten to the point where you have to be really small or go big. There’s no in-between.”

Omaha, Neb.

Like its peers to the east and south, Greenberg Fruit Co. Inc. in Omaha, Neb., has held its own.

“It’s just attributable to hard work,” said Greenberg’s general manager Brent Bielski. “We’ve seen a dip in certain areas and an increase in others.”

Bielski said his company has stayed alive by always putting the customer above all else.

“You have to keep customer service in mind,” he said. “We just believe in taking care of our customers on a daily basis. That’s what we’re going to keep doing.”

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