Nardelli noted that one change he observed was more buying of bulk items rather than bagged or processed items.
“Consumers are looking for a deal, something that can stretch the dollar,” he said. “Even the thought of a chopped salad is fast and it’s easy. They get more bang for the buck with a head of lettuce or a head of romaine.”
Nonetheless, Nardelli said he has noticed consumers beginning to open up in the economy more by visiting malls and New Jersey seaside resorts by the shore.
“The mid-range restaurants are doing OK, not the high-end ones,” he said. “We feel what’s going to take place is we’re not going to have the double-digit items. We may have to learn how to make money on an $8 commodity and pay our bills.”
Despite uncertainties regarding input prices, credit lock-ups and an unpredictable customer market, some suppliers are approaching the season with full force.
“We’re looking forward to getting it out there and demonstrating and making new customers,” said Chris Cunnane, national sales director for Santa Sweets, Procacci Bros. Sales Corp., Philadelphia. “You have the economy, but you still have the focus on healthy eating. The economic climate is starting to turn around a little bit, confidence is growing, and people still want to eat healthily.”