Suburban distributors say sales remain difficult.
“It’s a rough business,” said Joe Granata, director of produce for RLB Food Distributors LP, West Caldwell, N.J.
“The economy is still struggling. Fuel prices, Mother Nature, it’s one thing after another that’s cutting into our profits. It’s been a long haul since late 2010. Everyone is struggling. There’s also a lot of new competition in the area.”
Some bright spots, however, involve the specialty grocery stores in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, Granata said.
He said those areas are booming and said Brooklyn retail sales are “like another Manhattan out there.”
Granata said the region is seeing many strong operators opening stores in the tri-state region.
Sales increased about 13% over the last year for J. Kings Foodservice Professionals Inc., Holtsville, N.Y., said Joel Panagakos, executive vice president.
“We have had a couple of years where things kind of leveled off, but sales have increased this last year,” he said.
“Those steady customers are suggesting us to some of their associates who have other businesses, so it’s word of mouth. Plus, our sales force is always out there and we have been targeting more street business.”