Using technology such as TempTale from Sensitech gives dispatchers instant info on cold chain or other issues, and they can call the driver and remedy the problem versus finding out at the end of a run that the load has spoiled from a faulty reefer.
“What were once static recorders are now dynamic,” enthuses Kazan. “I’ll get an alert in the middle of the night—a text that the temperature has risen, and can get on that immediately. In the past, that wasn’t available.”
Unlike smaller wholesalers who might be forced to close due to food safety costs, Kazan says this new technology can actually help smaller truckers stay in business. “We can provide the device to owner-operators to keep them competitive—so they can offer the same telematics any trucking company would deliver and buyers want.”
No specific commodity trends are breaking records this year—although kale,various other greens, and avocados are still hot. Instead—holidays, weather, and the media are influencing fluctuations in buying trends, according to Hunts Point merchants.
“It’s just such a variable business,” contends Margiotta. “Sometimes there’s an item you can’t get enough of and the next year there’s too much. A chef can go on YouTube, get a million followers, use fingerlings, and the next thing you know, everyone wants fingerlings.”
Additionally, weather does play a role. “When it’s hot and sunny, watermelon goes crazy,” Margiotta says. “If it rains a lot, watermelon and corn won’t be your leaders.”
Healthy and convenient
One trend that continues to have resonance is the combination of convenience and healthy foods. Increasingly, consumers care about what they eat; they want healthy food, but they don’t have time to shop and cook.
So, they want fruits and vegetables or prepared meal portions in the right size and packaging, and the right price.
Margiotta believes the vast amount of information available to consumers is stimulating demand. “How often do you see a potato or strawberry on commercial television? We can’t compete with major brand advertising.
“Social media is doing that for us, as people post about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables along with all kinds of creative recipes for once-unpopular vegetables like cauliflower,” Margiotta explains.
Consumers want to try new ideas and recipes, but also want it fast, easy, and healthy.
“I’ve been here for six years, and from day one, consumers were making demands on how things were packaged,” recalls D’Arrigo. “Everybody wants higher quality in quick and easy packaging; they want organic but they don’t want it to go bad in two days.”