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Twin Cities flourishing for produce industry

MINNEAPOLIS — The produce business is strong in the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis-St. Paul, according to produce distributors there.

Brent Beckman, the director of sales and marketing for G.O. Fresh, a Minneapolis-based fresh produce pre-cutting firm, said restaurant sales in the Twin Cities “are picking up again” after slowing several years ago with the economic downturn.

“Really, business is rebounding quite nicely,” said Marylou Owens, owner and chief operating officer of G.O. Fresh.

In the view of Phillip Brooks, the owner of H. Brooks & Co. LLC, also located here, “The economy here in the Twin Cities is stronger than the average for the whole country.”

Minnesota leads the nation in average years of education and is one of the top states in test scores, he said. “We are one of the top in terms of post-secondary education.”

The Twin Cities, he said, “have the most live theater of anywhere outside of New York City.” The metropolitan area offers teams from all the major professional sports leagues and countless Fortune 500 companies.

Brooks added that the Twin Cities are made stronger by the presence of immigrants from many countries, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Laos. There are also many immigrants from Mexico and Central America and South America. “This makes for a wonderful city, which has northern European roots. The supply chain responds to more variety. You have more flavors to sell through foodservice.”