Keeping pace & moving forward
Over the last several years, the OFT has been in the process of ongoing expansion and renovations.
“The OFT is ever-changing,” remarks Sarraino. “Structurally, there have been some significant changes to the facility, and it has grown.” Thanks to the terminal’s close proximity to the city, Sarraino says countless independent customers “flock to it in the dark hours of the morning.”
“The food terminal has been making a lot of improvements,” agrees Ted Kurtz, president and buyer for Stronach & Sons Inc. on the market. “It’s an old building, built in 1954, so they’re trying to do whatever they can to update and make the facility safer.”
Part of the improvement efforts includes completion of the new southeast buyer loading docks, providing space for 23 additional tractor-trailers. Next, according to Nicholas, “will be extending the depth and width of existing cold storage receiving and shipping docks, which will add to additional dock doors and make it a safer dock to work in.”
Further, he notes, will be upgrades to the Market’s waste facility, which handles separation and recycling functions. These projects are scheduled for completion by early spring in 2019.
Commodity Ups and Downs
In addition to structural changes to the market, OFT wholesalers offered their thoughts on a few shifts in demand. While there are always mainstays, certain products will fluctuate more than others, with some declining in popularity as others gain more attention. With a nod to the region’s diverse offerings, top sellers differ remarkably from merchant to merchant.
“Our business is grapes and stone fruit,” notes Larry Davidson, president of North American Produce Buyers Ltd. “Those are our two major commodities,” he says, and fortunately, “they continue to grow.” Moreover, he explains, “We’re specialists, not full service, so our business is really focused on a few commodities.”
Vincent Formusa, vice president of National Produce Marketing Inc., says the company’s top five sellers are papaya, mangos, watermelon, broccoli, and carrots. “We import everything directly from source,” he explains.
“We try to work only directly with farmers and stay away from purchasing other products secondhand or from other wholesalers,” Formusa continues. “This gives us better control of our product and the quality, and allows us to ensure growers grow the product to the specifications we require.”