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Vince Consalo, president of Wm. Consalo & Sons Farms Inc., in Vineland, NJ, told The Produce News that the company, a major Northeast distributor of a full line of fruits and vegetables, will be attending the New York Produce Show.

“We are not exhibiting, but this show is a good opportunity for us to have face-to-face time with many of our customers and vendors,” said Mr. Consalo. “Almost everyone we run into at the event is someone we’ve crossed paths with in the past. It’s a great opportunity for us to network with people we know and to meet new ones.

Wm. Consalo & Sons Farms handles all New Jersey fruits and vegetables, which are all pre-cooled. Mr. Consalo said that the company is steadfast in its efforts to keep people informed about the East Coast and what is available at all times throughout the year.

“We encourage people to open their eyes and minds when it comes to adapting, and doing it quickly,” he said. “Produce is a constantly changing environment, and people have to continually change with it.”

As an example, he said if yams become available today, customers have to jump on the product today, noting that this ability is in general lacking in today’s industry.

“Customers need to stay on top of what is available in their region at all times, and to be flexible enough to take advantage of every opportunity,” he added.

The company handles well over 100 items produced in New Jersey, including leaf items, peppers and squashes. Blueberries are one of its biggest items. During the off-season, it brings product in from Mexico through its Nogales, AZ, facility. It also handles clementines, mandarins and other citrus items.

“Most of what we do in Mexico is in dry vegetables, which we handle especially heavy when New Jersey is not producing,” said Mr. Consalo.

He said the timing of this year’s New York Produce Show has both good and bad points.

“A lot of people complained in the past two years that they came off of the PMA Fresh Summit and hardly had time to catch their breath before the New York show, which was previously held in November,” said Mr. Consalo. “But as far as regional produce being available in December, it’s not so good because you’re missing production by a few weeks. In December, attention is turned to Christmas. There isn’t much that can be done about this, but we feel that having it earlier, despite that it was closer to the PMA expo, gave us more of an opportunity to promote local product.”

He does not, however, have any problem with the show growing large quickly, noting that it has nearly doubled since the first show two years ago.

“Regional shows are very popular,” he said. “I don’t see restricting the number of exhibitors as being reasonable. When you start to restrict, people start to question what the sense is in having the show at all. It finds its own level in growth and size over the years.”

Mr. Consalo reiterated the importance for customers in all categories — retail and foodservice — to not allow the time of year to dictate where the product they buy comes from.

“Keep an open mind, and keep slots open for East Coast product,” he stressed. “It’s fresher by miles.”