Foodservice consumers in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., are looking for more fresh local goods and clean labels on non-produce local items.
“We see a push at restaurants, caterers and hotels to use local farmers,” said Roy Cargiulo, sales manager with Keany Produce and Gourmet Inc., Landover, Md.
“Large local restaurant groups to independent operators are capitalizing on this trend,” he said.
He said foodservice customers see value in the freshness and are starting to take advantage of the marketing angle of stimulating the local economy.
Some independent restaurants are even getting direct deliveries from farms through the Virginia, Maryland and District of Columbia region.
“Our customer base is demanding local products because their customers are becoming increasingly discerning consumers.”
For foodservice, Cargiulo said homegrown/local growth has been easier to push than organic produce.
“Cost of most organics has been cost prohibitive for most foodservice accounts,” he said, adding that the homegrown movement has better prices and great quality.
“It has been much easier to adopt in our market and there has been plenty of supply on most items we can source regionally,” he said.
Fresh-cut produce also continues to grow, he said. The company plans to expand its fresh-cut processing capacity in its Richmond, Va., facility.
“As labor costs rise in the cities (minimum wage increases), cut/cleaned product is becoming more reasonably priced,” he said.
Along with fresh-cut produce, ancillary products to add to the produce trucks (oils, vinegars, local honey, maple syrup, preserves, etc.) have shown growth, he said.
Cargiulo said the firm has worked with its freight partners to lock in future freight prices/availability.
During times of tight truck availability, he said the company was compelled to use single drivers instead of teams, which created longer transit times.
To secure its future transportation needs, Keany Produce has widened its net for freight companies, he said, giving opportunities to other companies the firm had not been using previously.
Changes at Keany
In the past year, the company has added 15 new trucks, installed an updated warehouse management system in Richmond and Washington, D.C., and expanded service into the Carolinas, he said.
In staff news in the past year, the company has added:
- Cassidy Williams as marketing coordinator;
- Greg Otterbein as CEO; and
- Jose Morales as Gourmet product development.