Foodservice business seems to be doing well for most produce suppliers serving markets with fresh-cut and value-added items geared for that segment.
“We’re meeting expectations, maybe even exceeding them,” said Ernst Van Eeghen, director of marketing and product development for Church Brothers LLC, Salinas, Calif.
“We’re having a record year for pretty much every commodity that we do.”
This marks the fifth consecutive year the company has hit big growth numbers, he added.
The largest portion of the company’s growth has been on the value-added side, he said, and 70% is from existing customers, which Van Eeghen considers to be very meaningful.
“Growth is considered a reward from our customers for doing a good job,” he said.
About 80% of the company’s business is foodservice, he said.
Other produce business in the West are also enjoying success based on fresh-cut and value-added offerings.
At Boskovich Farms Inc., Oxnard, Calif., business continues to be “positive with pretty decent growth,” said Mike O’Leary, vice president of sales and marketing for the company’s fresh-cut division.
Sales appear “flat to slightly down” for customers of River Point Farms, Hermiston, Ore., which specializes in onions, said Bob Hale, president, chairman and chief executive officer.
However, he said he’s starting to see “a slow climb out” of the economic doldrums.
“The economy is turning around a bit and confidence in the economy is turning around a bit,” he said, “but unemployment has remained at a level that I personally am uncomfortable with.”
The Mushroom Council, San Jose, Calif., doesn’t specifically track foodservice sales, but marketing coordinator Kathleen Preis suspects that mushroom movement is good.
“We’re definitely seeing increased menu mentions across the board,” she said.
Fresh-cut and value-added mushrooms are featured at many top restaurant chains, she said, and the number of establishments offering them continues to increase as the industry promotes its “blendability” concept, where mushrooms are blended with meat in a variety of dishes.
Movement also is increasing at colleges and in kindergarten through 12th-grade cafeterias, now that mushroom are included in U.S. Department of Agriculture meal programs.
“Schools everywhere can use entitlement dollars to incorporate blendability onto their school menus,” Preis said.