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The condition of roads and bridges in the South Bronx — where the Hunts Point Terminal Market and other produce companies are located — have been sore topics among residents, produce professionals and politicians for decades. Now, according to the New York State Governor’s office, major improvements are on the way.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that $1.8 billion has been allocated for a landmark project on the long-sought reconstruction at the Bruckner-Sheridan interchange. The long-awaited plan will create a direct route to the Hunts Point Market, eliminating traffic on local roads and reducing community exposure to air and noise pollution.

Renderings and a map of Sheridan Boulevard are available on the governor’s website. In the video above, both produce professionals and community residents are interviewed. Among them is Michael Muzyk, president of Baldor Specialty Foods located adjacent to the terminal market in the Bronx.

“The governor has made a decision to get personally involved and the needle has finally moved," Muzyk said. "The speed of which it is moving is nothing short of miraculous.”

The plan for direct access to the Hunts Point Market, one of the largest food distribution centers in the world, will be from both the Bruckner Expressway and the new Sheridan Boulevard.

More than 78,000 vehicles travel to the Hunts Point Peninsula daily, including 13,000 trucks using local roads, which has increased and contributed to poor air quality in the community. These new measures will take traffic off local roadways, significantly reducing both noise and air pollution in a borough with some of the highest asthma rates in the country.

The transformational project is expected to create 4,250 new jobs. It will be completed in multiple phases, the first of which will be funded by $700 million in this year's budget.

In the press release, the Governor stressed the importance of the Hunts Point Market. It is a vital economic engine for the Bronx, currently generating more than $2 billion in annual economic activity. As one of the largest wholesale food markets in the world, the Hunts Point peninsula also attracts tens of thousands of vehicles per day which use local streets, particularly Westchester Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard, to go to and from the interstate highway network.

This project will transform the local roadway system by creating a flyover ramp from the new Sheridan Boulevard and a new eastbound exit from the Bruckner Expressway to Edgewater Road — which feeds directly into the market. The Sheridan ramp will remove heavy traffic and idling trucks from local roads and is expected to save five minutes in travel time for each truck that currently travels 2.7 miles on local streets. Work to create the new Sheridan Boulevard will begin next year and that aspect of the project is scheduled to be completed by Spring 2019.

The solution to the two-fold problem — enhancing the community by making it safer and more accessible to residents and visitors, and growing the Hunts Point Terminal Market — is to build new roads and bridges bringing traffic from the Bruckner and Sheridan directly into the market.

“Bringing spurs off of the Sheridan into the elevated portion of the Bruckner and right into Hunts Point — it’s priceless,” said Muzyk.

 

For the past couple of weeks, tomato prices have been rising as supplies from Mexico and Florida decline. But as the price hit $20 per carton for some sizes and varieties, demand has waned.

"As supplies dwindle, the price goes up and that tends to lessen demand, just as it is supposed to," Joe Bernardi told The Produce News May 26. "I expect it to continue to come down a bit in June, but supplies are still going to be tight until after the Fourth of July."

Bernardi, who is president of Bernardi & Associates Inc., was in his Turlock, CA, office on this Friday before the Memorial Day weekend. He noted that a small deal from Quincy, FL, was expected to get started next week (around June 1), but there would be no significant change in supplies until California's San Joaquin Valley kicks in around June 20. A North Carolina tomato deal is expected to start about the same time.

It is Bernardi's contention that those mature green deals, along with the beginning of the Baja California vine-ripe production, will help the supply situation after the Fourth of July pull. In July, he expects promotable volume. That is also the time frame when homegrown and local deals around the country start to kick in. That is typically when tomatoes are in great supply and retail promotions abound.

But Bernardi said the month of June could easily temper those supplies if bad weather hits across the nation.

"I haven't heard of any terrible weather yet, except for a few tornados, and that's always isolated," he said. "We'll just have to wait and see."

Douglas Schaefer, president of E.J.'s Produce Sales Inc. in Phoenix, confirmed that the tomato market took a dip toward the end of the week after several weeks of being very strong. He said it is always difficult to ascertain exactly the root cause in short supplies coming up from Mexico, but that has been the case in the previous couple of weeks.

"I don't know if it was weather problems or what, but supplies have been tight," said Schaefer.

He noted that it has been an amazing spring with regard to vegetable prices. "In my 30-plus years of doing this, I've seen two things happen this year that I've never seen before. I saw a $50-plus celery market and I saw all five major vegetable items above $30 at the same time. I'm talking about lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, green leaf and Romaine."

Those five commodities have backed off their peak prices, and are currently selling in a normal range. That is not the case for celery, which is still above $50 per carton with demand still far exceeding supply.

Oxnard, CA-based Mission Produce has completed construction on its latest ripe center, which is based in Calgary and will service customers in western Canada with ripe fruit throughout the year.

Mission has operated a distribution center Toronto since 2010, and the addition of the new center in Calgary allows the company to service the western half of the country from a center that is designed to deliver to customers from Winnipeg to Vancouver.Calgary-Interior-Doors-OpenDoors open at Mission's Calgary ripe center, which has the capacity to ripen 96 pallets.

According to Ben Barnard, Mission’s senior director of operations, the ripe center implements new technology designed specifically for avocados. “It is a 40,000-square-foot, purpose-built facility that has four ripe rooms with a total capacity to ripen 96 pallets," he said. "We developed the Calgary ripe center with our internal engineering team. It uses the latest in avocado-ripening technology that is unique to Mission Produce, including advance high-efficiency refrigeration, lighting and control systems to minimize our energy usage. It was designed and built to meet or exceed all food-safety requirements.”

According to Brent Scattini, Mission’s vice president of sales and marketing, opening the Calgary ripe center was a logical step in further serving the Canadian market. “The Calgary facility is a natural counterpart to our Toronto facility, and gives us the ability to service customers more rapidly," he said. "By having a depot in Calgary, we can relieve some of the burden on the Toronto ripe center. It also allows us more ripe capacity while developing faster deliveries of both hard and ripe fruit for customers in the west. It gives us another hub and further extends our coverage of North America.”

Mission’s President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Barnard said, “Canada is a very important market for Mission, and adding the Calgary ripe center expands our capacity and our ability to distribute to our customer base in a timely manner. This is the third ripe center we’ve opened this year -- after opening centers in Europe and China. We currently operate 11 Mission-owned centers around the world, and we plan to continue to grow globally."

Shuman Produce has launched the second installment of its How to Speak Southern campaign. This social media-driven promotion, which runs through June 30, is aimed at educating consumers on the uniqueness of Vidalia onions while also highlighting some of Shuman Produce’s favorite true Southernisms. How to Speak Southern 2.0 combines a quiz, recipe videos and Vidalia onion facts to engage consumers in the story behind Vidalia onions.shumy

“Consumers are interested in learning more about where and how their produce is grown. Vidalia onions are extremely unique in that they can only be grown in a 20-county region in southeast Georgia and are only available a few months out of the year. This promotion is a great way for us to share our story and build excitement around RealSweet Vidalia onions,” John Shuman, president of Shuman Produce, said in a press release. "The goal of this campaign is to increase brand awareness and incremental sales associated with Vidalia sweet onions."

The highlight of this campaign is the Can You Speak Southern quiz, which tests knowledge of phrases used throughout the Southeast. After taking the quiz, consumers can enter to win weekly giveaways along with the grand prize — a Big Green Egg grill.

The Big Green Egg grand prize is a great fit for this campaign as it ties in grilling season and Vidalia onions. The quiz is housed on a dedicated campaign website that contains engaging and informative content such as delicious summer recipes featuring Chef & The Fatman, personal farmer profiles, informative Vidalia onion facts and a sign-up for the RealSweet consumer newsletter.

“Shuman Produce is excited about the potential of this promotion. After tremendous success in 2015, we expect our social media followers to engage all season long,” Susannah Lanier, marketing coordinator of Shuman Produce, said in the release.

From Swiss chard and collard greens to peppers, tomatoes, corn and much more, local produce, both conventionally and organically farmed, is becoming a mainstay on kitchen tables across New Jersey and New York.

To meet that demand and expand its partnerships with the local farming community, Inserra Supermarkets is bringing locally sourced produce to all of its 22 ShopRite stores this spring and summer.Family-Photo-2017Inserra Supermarkets, a family-owned ShopRite chain, is well-known for its mission to care deeply about people and help them to eat well and be happy. Pictured are Lars Larsen, Marie Inserra, Carl Inserra Jr., Lawrence Inserra Jr., Lawrence Inserra III, Laura Inserra-Dupont and Lindsey Inserra.

“Consumers can taste the robust flavors and freshness of produce that was picked that same day or the day before,” said Eric Beelitz, director of produce of Inserra Supermarkets, based in Mahwah, NJ. “That taste is important, and of course, really makes a difference.”

In New Jersey, the family-owned chain’s 17 ShopRites are located in Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties. In New York, the company has five stores in Rockland County. Under Beelitz’s direction with that of the Inserra leadership team, the company has turned produce into one of its signature departments.

Inserra Supermarkets has a long-standing partnership with Abma’s Farm in Wyckoff, NJ, Bergen County’s only produce and poultry farm, which has been in the Abma family for generations.

In regard to organic produce and herbs, Inserra Supermarkets primarily sources those items from Zone 7, a distributor that works with more than 120 regional sustainable farms — primarily those in New Jersey and Pennsylvania — 52 weeks a year.

The company also partners with Guarino Sons Produce Inc., a family-owned-and-operated wholesale produce distributor, and regularly sources produce from Winslow Junction Farm, Scordo Farm, Cassaday Farms, Circle M Farms and Pastore Orchards. Many of these farms and distributorships have been in families for generations just like Inserra Supermarkets.

“We have forecasted out our needs with all of our growers and are in constant contact with them,” added Beelitz. “As always, we aim to provide the ‘best of the best’ to our customers at an affordable price point.”

Farm to table in one day
For years, Inserra Supermarkets has sold Abma’s produce in some of its ShopRite locations. This summer, the family-owned chain will increase those offerings, particularly Abma’s sweet corn.

“Abma’s Farm will pick the corn at 4 a.m. and deliver it to our stores the same morning,” said Beelitz. “We did this last year with Abma’s, and our customers couldn’t get enough of it.”

As a company, Inserra Supermarkets is furthering its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. Having local growers deliver products to stores — rather than having items trucked across the country — is a key component of this effort.

“As the owner and operator of grocery stores, we have a real opportunity to promote healthy habits, like eating more fruits and veggies, and take that responsibility seriously,” said Lindsey Inserra, vice president of marketing and corporate retail health and wellness of the family-owned chain.

Under Lindsey Inserra’s direction, the company continues expanding its focus on health and wellness, particularly with its In-store Registered Dietitian Program.