Rick Sullivan, owner of Wm. Manis & Co. in Plant City, FL, told The Produce News in mid-November that things were a little slow — something he was enjoying while it lasted.
“It hasn’t been brisk, but in another 10 days or two weeks it will be Katie-bar-the-door for a while,” Mr. Sullivan said. “There’s not any excitement heading into this Thanksgiving holiday like we normally experience, but it was that way last year as well. But things really came around and we did have a nice December last year.”
Other than that, “there’s really not a lot of new stuff to tell, everything’s really status quo. We enhanced our computer system last year, we still have the same team here and we’re just out doing our thing,” Mr. Sullivan said.
That is saying something since Manis has been doing business for more than 50 years. The company is a leading marketer of watermelons, Athena cantaloupes, citrus, strawberries, import specialties, southern vegetables and fruits of the Pacific Northwest. It also imports melons, asparagus and other offshore items, enabling customized mixed loads as customers need.
The pre-Thanksgiving lull gave Mr. Sullivan time to assess the upcoming season.
“We are pleased with the quality, the summer was mild, there’s wasn’t any severe weather to affect the quality of crops other than some rains that hit south Florida, which affected some of the items such as green beans — it’s tightened that up a bit and some other commodities as well — but they are out there. Overall quality has been good so far, and we’re just getting where we’re winding down [vegetable production] in our Georgia growing areas and ramping up in Florida.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Sullivan is hopeful that with the presidential election in the rear view mirror, growers and buyers will put aside any lingering malaise and get back to business.
“The growers are being very cautious with what type of volume they want to get involved with because some of these markets have been so unfavorable due to over-producing. That’s why we’re seeing such a good market right now on several items — everybody’s being very careful, they’re not going out there and planting heavy because with this economy things have slowed down and the product that’s been available brought some pretty weak markets that make it difficult for the grower to be profitable,” he said.
“I think there was a lot of hesitation out there during the campaign, just not knowing what was going to happen and where we’re going to go from there. Everybody’s being very cautious these days, everybody,” Mr. Sullivan said. “We’ve got to go with the decision of the American people and respect it and give [President Obama] all the support we can and hope that the next four years we see some improvement. We sure would like to see a nice little holiday boost for everybody on both sides of the fence — everybody could use a good shot in the arm, some good action to get everybody’s hopes up, the moral up, get the economy moving again.”