For Independent Fruit & Produce, another wholesaler on the St. Louis Produce Market, it’s been business as usual the past year, partner Steve Wielansky said.
“It’s been fine, not much change,” he said.
Squash, tomatoes, watermelon, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, grapes, cantaloupes and honeydew are among Independent’s big sellers.
Retail competition fierce
With Shop ‘n Save, Schnucks, Dierbergs, Wal-Mart and a host of other retailers fighting over the same turf, the St. Louis retail market is not for the faint of heart.
“The competition in St. Louis is very stiff,” said Steve Duello, category manager of produce for Chesterfield, Mo.-based Dierbergs Markets Inc. “Every time someone opens a market, it divides the pie a little more.”
Wal-Mart, for instance, has significantly expanded its footprint in the metro area in recent years.
Another discount retailer, Aldi’s, also has a bigger presence in St. Louis.
“We’re doing OK, but sales still aren’t what they used to be,” he said. “They’re not what they were last year, and last year’s weren’t what they were the year before.”
Greg Lehr, produce category specialist for retailer William A. Straub, said the company has no immediate plans to add more stores to its four-store roster.
“We only have four stores, but business has been good,” he said. “The first half of the year has been really good for us.”