A&J distributes to independent retail chains.
Weather also has been a big factor during the past winter.
“The snow really hurts our retail customers,” said Mike Cochran, sales manager and vice president of Robert T. Cochran & Co. Inc., New York. “It definitely messed them up, and many of them were complaining. Sales have been OK, but the cold and the snow were certainly hurting them.”
Other distributors report the snow and inclement weather helped product movement to retail customers.
RLB Food Distributors LP, West Caldwell, N.J., experienced strong sales weeks during the snowstorms, said Joe Granata, RLB’s director of produce.
January and February usually mark a good start for produce sales, as everyone goes on diets, he said.
Granata characterizes the region’s retail market as highly competitive.
“The Northeast is the most competitive area you will find,” he said. “It’s between the Shop Rites, the Whole Foods, the A&Ps, the Kings, the Pathmarks — the list goes on and on. Even the smaller stores are upgrading their stores and products and are trying to become a bit more upscale.”
Alfie Badalamenti, vice president of Coosemans New York Inc., said the extreme cold and numerous snowstorms that besieged the metropolitan area from December through early April harmed retail sales.
Because it was cold and people didn’t want to go shopping, retailers were complaining, he said.
The stores saw the business but not as much movement as they should have experienced, Badalamenti said.
“It was a brutal winter for everyone — retailers and restaurants,” Badalamenti said in mid-May. “It was bad all over the Northeast, including Boston and
Philadelphia. Retailers are doing much better now and are running specials to bring in the customers.”
Otherwise, retail movement is normal, said Matthew D’Arrigo, vice president of D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of New York Inc.
“It’s been fine, and the retail business here in New York is doing well,” he said. “The green grocers and bodegas count heavily on the market to supply them. Most of our business ends up going to retail, and that’s where most produce is purchased.”
Retail sales account for about 25% of the sales for J. Kings Foodservice Professionals Inc., Holtsville, N.Y., said Joel Panagakos, salesman.