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After 70 years, Procacci Brothers is still innovating

Celebrating its 70th year in business, Procacci Brothers Sales Corp. always has something new in the pipeline. In addition to its headquarters facility, the Philadelphia-based company has a major presence at the nearby Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market.

In mid-April, Rick Feighery, vice president of sales told The Produce News that the company was moving forward following the death of Joseph G. Procacci, chief executive officer and chairman, last November.

“His son, JM [Joseph Michael] Procacci, transitioned seamlessly into the CEO position in September 2017,” said Feighery. “Under JM’s guidance Procacci Brothers continues its focus on growing our customers’ businesses with our full line of fresh produce and related services.”

Procacci-Phila-Mkt-5.2018Procacci Brothers executives: Mike Maxwell, president; Joseph Procacci III, director; Rick Feighery, vice president of sales; JM Procacci, chief executive officer; Sid Richardson, vice president of store operations; and George Binck, chief operating officer. Procacci President Mike Maxwell said, “We continue to experience great growth in all of our categories, but especially in organics, ethnic roots and floral. Our vertically integrated business begins with our research development, seed operation and growing operations in North America. Our closest operation in the Northeast includes 1,600 acres based in Cedarville, NJ. Santa Sweets Inc. grows both organic and conventional vegetables. In addition they are the largest tomato grower in the state of New Jersey.”

Also under its umbrella is the GS Distribution Co., a separate company which services the independent grocer with direct store delivery along with administrative services.

“This service gives small independent companies the opportunity to compete like the big guys,” said Maxwell. “GS Distribution handles everything — more than 1,200 SKUs — that owner-operators need in a produce department, including all the major brands.”

Another separate company that falls under the Procacci Brothers’ umbrella is NANCO Cold Storage, also located in Philadelphia. “NANCO offers cold storage and repacking capabilities to support imported items,” explained Feighery. “Established 30 years ago, it solicits business from all importers and growers in need of its services.”

Procacci Brothers also has a large fruit basket operation that is particularly strong during the winter holidays. “Fruit baskets are highly seasonal,” said Maxwell. “About 60 percent of business is done during Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the remainder is spread throughout the year. Retailers appreciate this service because it removes the labor of doing it from their operations.”

In mid-April the company starts to transition out of its traditional domestic winter crop programs of apples, pears and oranges.

“We’re in the middle of our Chile and Argentina programs, promoting pears, grapes, and stone fruit,” noted Maxwell. “We look forward to the Mexican grape deal ramping up along with the domestic strawberry movement. May is an exciting time in the produce business. We have different growing areas starting to give us a large selection of domestically grown produce — stone fruit, grapes, watermelons, corn and berries of all varieties. It creates excitement in the produce aisles going right into Memorial Day with all the produce of summer available. At store level you also see a change in retail shelf space being re-allotted, shrinking the displays of winter fruit, and making accommodations for the new arrival of summer time fruit.”

In May, the company also transitions from product produced in California and Mexico to eastern seasonal programs.

Feighery said Procacci Brothers could not be happier with its space on the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market. “We’re very proud to be a member of the newest, most advanced terminal market in the world.”

The company is also bullish on its locally grown dedication.

“We have a position on the Vineland Produce Auction,” said Feighery. “And we participate with many local growers to help push their products.”

As for the future, Maxwell said, “Growth at Procacci Brothers is always ongoing.”