OPN Connect Newsletter 129 · August 22, 2019

Seasonal Organic Deals From the East Offer Mixed Bag

Hot and wet August weather in the northeast has caused some local organic deals to start to wind down, although some of the hardier commodities should still be available into late September and beyond.

Rick Feighery, Procacci Bros.

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Rick Feighery, vice president of sales for Procacci Bros. Sales Corp. in Philadelphia, told OPN it is always a difficult question to answer as to when the local deals will end as weather plays a big role in the length of the season.  The first frost in the late summer/early fall will typically mark the end of the deal, but hot, humid weather in August can also ring the death knell. “When will these deals end? I’ll be the second to know, right after my grower,” he quipped.

Feighery noted that this third week of August had brought high temperatures and high humidity -- the second week this month that has occurred.  He said the local deals in both New York and New Jersey, where Procacci has its own organic farming operation, are in the heart of their deals, and will last as long as the weather allows.  He anticipates continuing to source organic products from local farms for another six weeks through September.  But he also said that by early next month, he will have started transitioning to commercial growers in Georgia, the Carolinas and north Florida.  His orders from California and the West will also start to pick up, though he never stops buying at least some items from the West throughout the year.

Mark Hill, Baldor

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Mark Hill, director of organic produce for Baldor, a New York City based foodservice distributor, told OPN on Aug. 21 that the Pennsylvania organic tomato deal had just about runs its course but there would still be tomatoes from New York and New Jersey for several more weeks.  He said some of the hardier commodities, such as the squashes, especially the hard-shell squashes, should last through September and into the fall.  In addition, he said some of these organic growers will transition into organic spinach and kale, which will extend their season. But like the others, he never stops supporting his year-round suppliers and did anticipate those orders would start to pick up after Labor Day.

Joe Eisinger, Nathel & Nathel Inc.

Also weighing in was Joe Eisinger, director of organics for Nathel & Nathel Inc., a wholesaler on the Hunts Point market in The Bronx in New York City.  He is a big supporter of organics from California year-round, especially the Cal-Organics label, so he doesn’t alter his purchasing source too much during the summer.  The company does source its organic tomatoes from a specific farm in upstate New York and Eisinger says he does cut back on summer purchases because backyard farmers in the Northeast do decrease demand for commercial product.  He said the company’s New York organic tomato deal should last into early September and he expects that will also be about the time he can ramp up purchases of other vegetables from California to meet demand, as most local deals will phase out in September.

Speaking of both Procacci’s local farming operation and the organic local deals at large, Feighery said this year’s summer deal has been “okay.”  Procacci has been producing its own crops for more than 20 years and expanded its acreage two years ago.  This season, the tomato specialist concentrated on organic grape tomatoes and he said the production was pretty good.

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