Rumors are once again circulating that the owner of Price Chopper supermarkets is considering a sale, according to a report by the Supermarket News. However, company spokeswoman Mona Golub, told the Albany Business Review that those speculations are not true.
“That would be rumor and innuendo, to which I will not respond,” Golub said.
Back in May, it was also reported that Price Chopper was considering selling its stores, to which Golub said, “there is no truth whatsoever to this (annual) rumor.”
Schenectady, NY-based Golub Corp., the family run parent company of Price Chopper supermarkets, owns 135 stores in six Northeast states, making it the 42nd-largest food retailer in North America. The company has currently been undergoing an upgrade and re-brand to its stores as Market 32, so far opening ten stores with more on the way.
The company has invested tens of millions of dollars in the new Market 32 stores, and has hired and trained hundreds of employees, as well as cut costs by eliminating administrative positions at its headquarters. The transformation is being led by Scott Grimmett, who was appointed chief executive officer in January.
On April 26, Calvert Cullen, president of Northampton Growers Produce Sales, Inc., headquartered in Cheriton, VA, told The Produce News the company’s Carolina crops look to be on schedule.
“After the rough winter we had in South Florida, much the same as everyone had in every growing region, we are happy to say that things are pretty much back to normal,” said Cullen. “We are still a bit far out to predict our North Carolina crop with precision, but if things stay the way they are, and baring bad weather systems, we’ll come out with a very nice crop.”
South Florida was in the same basic situation with Mexico, California, South and Central America in the winter and early spring. El Niño wreaked havoc of some level to all growing areas resulting in very short volumes of the majority of crops.
Northampton Growers got back on track with its northern Florida crops, and its Georgia program was gearing up to full swing in late April.
“Our Central Florida crops will wrap up about the end of May with the last of the season items like peppers,” said Cullen. “In Georgia we started harvesting cabbage in the middle of April, and we’re now getting ready to start with squashes.”
He added that yields and quality of the Georgia crops are very good.
“The cabbage market is currently strong, but squash is still in the tank because every growing region came on at the same time creating a glut,” he explained.
The company was still planting in North Carolina at the end of April. Its farms are in Hyde County, and the packing shed is in Fairfield.
“We will start cabbage harvesting in North Carolina on May 15,” said Cullen. “Green beans and squashes will start around June 1, peppers around June 20 and sweet corn will be ready around June 25 to July 1. It’s a 90 day crop, and North Carolina is the only place we grow it. For corn you need land and a proper equipment set up. We have a little window with North Carolina corn before Michigan starts its movement.”
Plantings are done with precision at Northampton Growers. String beans are ready for harvesting 52 days from planting and squash is ready in 45 days.
“New faster growing varieties have come on over the years,” Cullen noted. “Green beans used to take 60 days, and are now at about 52 days.”
The company follows the seasons from Florida northward each year, wrapping up in Michigan in late summer. It then reverses its growing pattern and works back southward.
Cullen is partners with Steve McCready, who is also the company’s comptroller.
“With the rough winter behind us, we sure look forward to smooth sailing as we move north,” said Cullen. “But we don’t let our guard down for a second. We know a storm can brew at just about any time that could set everyone’s crops back.”
Christopher Ranch, a leading grower and shipper of high-quality garlic and other specialty products has been growing organic garlic since 1997. Patsy Ross, marketing director for the Gilroy, CA-based company, said that every year the company increases acreage for its organic program.
“Christopher Ranch grows packs and ships organic fresh and peeled garlic, organic fresh and peeled shallots and organic elephant garlic,” said Ross. “We also offer handcrafted organic garlic braids. And our full line of value-added jar items includes chopped garlic, roasted garlic, chopped ginger and chopped shallots.”
And the company’s organic line extends even further. It carries a full line of organic specialty items such as pearl, Ciopolline and boiler onions, as well as fresh organic ginger.
The company’s fresh organic garlic, shallots and elephant garlic are all produced in California.
Ross noted that Christopher Ranch is fortunate to have a mix of retail, foodservice distributor and industrial accounts in its customer portfolio. Its main distribution range for its organic offerings is across North America.
The organic market, Ross noted, continues to grow.
“And we are working hard to meet the increasing demand,” she said. “Our ultimate goal is to provide domestic items year-round, but sometimes we need to supplement our domestic supply with imported organic items to meet our customer’s needs.”
Third-generation family member, Ken Christopher, joined the company in 2010, and now helps to oversee its operations. He said the company’s California organic garlic sales have been growing at a strong rate for the past several years.
“While growing organics can be very challenging, we are proud to have a year-round California supply,” said Christopher. “We expect this coming season’s market to remain very tight, with demand continuing to outstrip supply. That being said, we are investing more and more in our organic program to ensure that we’ll continue to expand right alongside customer demand.”
Ross said the company is very excited about the upcoming summer harvest season for its organic garlic and other items.
“As a conscientious family owned company, Christopher Ranch strives to sustain the environment, and in all aspects of our operation,” she explained. “And we are totally dedicated to expanding our full line of organic products into the future.”
RBest Produce Inc., headquartered in Port Washington, NY, has handled organic produce for over 15 years. Jasmine Hines, director of marketing and advertising, said the company has always supported local farmers.
“We handle approximately 300 organic items at a time,” said Hines. “Our full supply of organics ranges from fresh organic fruits, vegetables and herbs, along with lots of complementary items such as organic juices, tofu, nuts, croutons and salad dressings.”
The company, a wholesaler and distributor, services customers primarily in the Northeast region.
Hines noted that RBest’s strongest selling organic items are its value-added salads and leafy lettuce commodities.
“Items such as organic Romaine hearts, arugula, and spinach are particularly strong for us,” she said. “Organic apples, celery hearts, tomatoes, lemons and grapes also sell strongly. RBest also offers a full line of fresh organic juicing items like kale varieties, juice carrots, apples, grapefruits and limes. They are all sold without label stickers to better accommodate foodservice operators who mass produce fresh juice products.”
RBest continually encourages its customers to go organic on all produce items because consumers have strongly embraced the trend. People becoming more educated about healthier eating habits also help to spur increased organic consumption.
Hines noted that increasingly more consumers are also learning about organic farming practices and how good they are for the environment. This too is a call to increase organic consumption.
Locally grown is also effecting the increase of organic sales for RBest Produce.
“Being located on Long Island offers us convenience in working with local farms,” said Hines. “’Locally Grown’ signage is important to our customers in helping them to promote and differentiate during seasonal availability. We promote variety in produce departments, and so along with encouraging organic locally grown items we encourage an assortment of organic items that might not be grown locally; organic pineapples or mangos, for example.”
RBest Produce is currently promoting other popular items, including seedless watermelons from Lady Mood Farms, and baby honeydew melons from SunFed.
“And we maintain and continually promote our large variety of prepackaged organic salads,” said Hines. “We supply brands such as ‘Earthbound,’ ‘Fresh Express’ and ‘Organic Girl.’
“Our organic produce is primarily domestically grown,” she continued. “Seasonally we work with local growers from New York, New Jersey and Long Island as well as International farms for items like organic ginger.”
In October 2014, RBest warehouse facility achieved Primus GFS certification, opening more opportunities for the company to service a wider range of clients that require certifications.
The company distributes throughout the tri-state area, as well as Boston and Philadelphia.
“We continue with construction plans on our warehouse facility,” said Hines. “Currently more loading dock doors are being worked on to provide more convenience and options for loading and unloading.”