Doug OhlemeierWorkers unload a pallet at Robert T. Cochran & Co. Inc. at Hunts Point Terminal Market. Distributors say sales remain sluggish despite news of economic growth. NEW YORK — Things aren’t so rosy red in the Big Apple.
Produce wholesalers report continued slow movement.
“You read all the papers how things are supposed to be getting better, but I don’t see it,” said Mike Cochran, sales manager and vice president of Robert T. Cochran & Co. Inc.
“It seems like it’s (the economy) still in the doghouse. People are scared to buy things. They’re buying lesser quantities.”
Matthew D’Arrigo, vice president of D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of New York Inc., and co-chairman of the Hunts Point Terminal Market, said the market’s customers feel the pinch.
“There’s no question that within our industry, the foodservice segment is far more affected by a poor economy than the retail end is,” he said.
“The retailers are in some ways even enhanced by shoppers having a few less dollars to spend because the most effective way to feed people is through the retail stores. That’s generally true.”
Chris Armata, president of E. Armata Inc., which distributes produce from 20 market stalls, said it’s a difficult time to sell and distribute produce.
“Everyone is trying to save money and slow up the way they pay,” he said.
“It seems that everyone, including the customers of our customers in our retail, wholesale and institutional customers, are up against a lot of competition. Everyone’s fighting for the same pie. The most important thing for guys like us is to make sure our growers get paid. Without them, we’re nothing.”
Distributors must remain on top of their sales, their customers and how their customers are ordering, said Thomas Cignarella, president of Morris Okun Inc.
“Everyone is so price-oriented,” he said.
“The customers order only what they need. No one over-orders anymore. You must try to find new business and other outlets, and try to get the chain stores in your area. There are a lot of people out there that are struggling. Everyone is feeling the economy in their own way. It’s not outstanding, but if you’re above the water, you’re doing OK.”
Customers are fussier than ever, said Alfie Badalamenti, vice president of Coosemans New York Inc.
“They’re even more picky, and they’re ordering less,” he said.