Bartolotta opened its Glassboro, NJ, facility in October 2012. “I am very pleased with how that operation is going, primarily because my manager there, Damon Twomey, is highly motivated,” Kevin Bartolotta, president of Bartolotta Inc. in Torrington, CT, told The Produce News.
Bartolotta’s Torrington location, continues to be the company’s headquarter base. Established in the early 2000s, the company brokers a full line of western and eastern commodity produce items. In mid-November, seasonal produce was in the process of transitioning from the North back to Mexico and Florida.
“Consequently, we’re very busy with items such as broccoli, celery and other staple items from California,” said Bartolotta. “Our melon program is moving from Central America. Although we’re pretty much a full line house of vegetables, we do very little in the fruit category.”
He noted that the third quarter of this year was very slow. He believes that the locally grown trend is putting a lot of pressure on regional programs.
“Our October was mild, but that seems to follow suit with the fact that the weather in the North was very good this fall and so the local program ran much longer than it does in normal years,” he said. “But overall, I think that despite the hoopla that we’re hearing from the media about the economic recovery and the glowing stock market, people just don’t have the money they used to have to spend on ancillary items, and food prices have really escalated in recent years. They are buying what they need and when they need it. It’s disillusioning to continually hear about the great state of things in the financial world, but the money is not trickling down to consumers.”
He added that now that the company is also operating out of New Jersey, Twomey is doing a great job of extending its distribution abilities farther south. Although the strength of its business is still in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions, it is now shipping some product as far south as Florida and it is leaning more into the Midwest today.
Times and therefore cultures change in the produce industry just as they do in every industry. Bartolotta said that every year there are increasingly more consolidations, which put added pressures on brokerage houses like his.
“My largest customer going back five years was recently bought out,” he said. “The new company has taken over with new processes and procedures, and so we have to adapt considerably, meaning we have to work harder to pick up new customers. Being a broker isn’t easy these days because contract buying eliminated the need for our services. I have some contracting business, but spot market buying has always been my specialty. But we’re flexible, and we intend to press forward in an industry that we believe in.”