Fresh produce business in Southwest begins recovery

01/03/2012 11:11:00 AM
Jim Offner

Recovery is ongoing, said Rick Crispo, partner in Phoenix-based Legend Distributing LLC.

“We’re starting to see some recovery,” he said. “The foodservice industry seems to be coming back a little. We’re starting to see that recovery. Even on the retail side, we’re starting to see some better movement than in the last couple of years.”

Crispo also noted that his company, now seven years old, has seen consistent growth, regardless of economic factors.

“Through good times and bad, we’ve continued to grow,” he said.

There is room for optimism in Las Vegas, as well, said Greg Bird, regional director for the Las Vegas market with Los Angeles-based Los Angeles & San Francisco Specialty Produce.

“I think that, looking statistically, there’s been single-digit growth for the economy in general. However, there’s been good opportunities for the food side,” he said.

“In terms of foodservice, the trends are chefs are looking for more local ingredients and unique items they can feature. By having the ability to supply these products, it has helped create value for their customers.”

Business has been more or less steady at Las Vegas-based Sandy Valley Farm Inc., said Cris Politis, chief executive officer.

“It’s been tough, but we do get the opportunity to deal with restaurants when they put on events, and we have big weekends,” he said.

“A lot of them put on conventions, sometimes they’ll go for a week. Whenever something like that is going on, we’ll have a steady week or weekend.”

The recession killed off some restaurants, but others now are rising up, Politis said.

“A lot of smaller restaurants didn’t make it,” he said. “Now, it seems like there’s a lot more people that are starting up again. They’re taking a chance at opening a new restaurant somewhere. There are signs of recovery. It’s more steady.”


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