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Nardella continues to expand its full fruit line and ethnic category

Nardella Inc. is in the blue section, units G-4 through G-6, on the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market. The company specializes in fruits from around the world. It handles all stone fruits, citrus, grapes and tropical items. It imports apples, grapes and numerous other products from South America, South Africa and New Zealand, providing its customers with year-round supplies.

A couple of years ago the company entered the ethnic category on the suggestion of one of its sales representatives.

“Our ethnic line continues to grow strongly,” John Durante, president of Nardella told The Produce News. “Our sales representative, Mike Reed, is in charge of the line, and is doing an outstanding job. A combination of factors is driving this movement, but the majority of the demand comes from the ethnic consumers who want the products that they grew up eating in their home countries. Our line caters especially to Mexicans, Jamaicans and people from the Dominican Republic.”

He explained that at one time the ethnic groups in the Philadelphia area were Italian, Irish, Polish, German and others that emigrated in the early part of the last century. But today those groups have become Americanized, and the Asians and Hispanics are now considered the ethnic groups.

Reed approached Durante over a year ago with the idea of expanding the ethnic line because he has many friends who are from Mexico, enabling him to learn a lot about the foods they seek out in the U.S. Durante agreed and it’s been a growing success since.

The program is strong in typical Mexican products, such as dried and fresh specialty peppers, tomatillos, cactus leaves, “a lot of cilantro,” Durante said, as well as cactus pears, guava, ginger, garlic, aloe vera, water coconut, papaya, mangos, dragonfruit and more. The company’s ethnic line is produced domestically as well as in Mexico and as far away as Asia. And the line is varied enough to appeal to Asian clients, whose diets include products similar to those of Hispanics.

One of the biggest surprise successes in the company’s ethnic line is its venture into corn tortillas.

“We started out selling 10 to 15 boxes of corn tortillas a week, and today we’re selling a couple hundred boxes a week,” explained Durante. “Our producer does an outstanding job.”

Durante said that the new PWPM terminal market is helping to open opportunities, such as the company’s ethnic line, because tenants have more space and much greater efficiencies than they did at the old terminal.

“There have been a few changes in the market since it opened in June 2011, just as there are in every industry,” he said.

“Some companies have had their ups and downs, and a couple have closed their doors,” he added. “It’s common knowledge that it’s going to take us five to 10 years to settle in completely. And it’s not so much that we enjoy the new facility — which we of course do — but that our customers enjoy it. Time is of the essence for them. The new facility offers plenty of parking and it is well organized so that they can get into the market, do their business and get out in just a portion of the time that they had to spend on the old market. It really helps them to increase their productivity.”

He added that product lasts longer, giving customers produce in better condition because of the unbroken cold chain.

“Business is moving along for us,” Durante said. “It’s a pleasure to work from this new facility, and we jump on new opportunities for our fruit and ethnic lines as they surface. Now that the winter is behind us, we’re looking forward to good weather and a strong year.”