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Nathel & Nathel Inc., a wholesaler on New York City's Hunts Point Market, has for a number of years been a direct importer of Chilean and Peruvian produce.

Sheldon Nathel, president of the company, told The Produce News Dec. 1 that his firm opened a separate import company Sept. 1, Nathel International, which is located near the ports of the Delaware River within the Pittsgrove, NJ, warehouse and office complex of Bifulco’s Four Seasons Cold Storage Inc.

The new company "incorporates the products from Chile and Peru into one umbrella. We have been in Chile since 2000 and Peru since 2007," Mr. Nathel said. Until this summer, all that product was shipped to and distributed from Nathel’s Hunts Point location. “Now we want to broaden that and make it more national because the volume is too heavy to bring to our [Hunts Point] store. The truth of the matter is that the big retailers of the world are not going to buy from a wholesaler. They may buy a few shorts here and there, but they are not going to buy a program from a wholesaler in Hunts Point. My deals might be better [than competitors], but unless I open a company — like Fisher started as a wholesaler in Montreal, and then opened a company (Fisher Capespan) to sell imports” — Nathel is not going to attract large- volume retail deals.

An integral part of Nathel International, Mr. Nathel said, is Dan Carapella, who is the sales manager. Mr. Carapella is “a young guy wanting to grow the business. He is sharp, honest and has good relationships. In this business, it is all about relationships and trust and doing the right job for the growers we are representing and getting the right product to the retailers to make it all work.”

Nathel International is receiving imported products at Delaware River ports and on container ships calling upon other ports in New York and New Jersey, depending upon the shipping season.

Nathel International will inspect and consolidate loads at the Bifulco warehouse, and that activity may expand to other similar regional facilities should Bifulco’s become overloaded with product, Mr. Nathel said.

From Peru, Nathel International is mainly receiving grapes, though some Peruvian mangos and citrus will also be part of the mix.

Grapes and stone fruit will dominate Nathel’s Chilean program. Furthermore, “there will be a lot of citrus,” such as clementines, Navels and lemons. “Apples and pears, and some oddball items like cherimoya and loquats, will come directly out of Chile,” Mr. Nathel said.

Nathel International also expects to handle some Argentinean pears.

The imported berries sold by the Nathel family will be sourced through “our professionals” — the large importers with whom the firm has traded for years.

“Importing is a tough business, dealing direct. Direct relationships can be very helpful but they also can be tough. There are problems if the markets don’t go right. If you deal with an importer, you are insulated from that,” he said.

Nathel International will be repacking imported citrus into small consumer packs but otherwise will be marketing shippers’ labels and will “represent the shippers and represent the labels we will be receiving year after year,” he said.

Sheldon’s brother Ira Nathel is the vice president of the Nathel companies.