“We will be promoting our primary ‘claims-to-fame’ at the upcoming [Produce Marketing Association] Foodservice Expo,” Mike Aiton, director of marketing for Prime Time International in Coachella, CA, told The Produce News. “They are our colored peppers in red, yellow and green, which are available every day of the year, and the fact that we pack our peppers in facilities that we own and operate.”
Mr. Aiton and colleagues Bobby Astengo, sales representative from the company’s Nogales, AZ, office, and Renee Brooks, a marketing assistant, will be at the company’s booth, number 83, at the July 29-31 PMA Foodservice Convention & Exposition in Monterey, CA. The firm will be offering sweet pepper samples used in different ways at the expo.
Mr. Aiton said that Prime Time International’s year-round colored pepper program is very appealing to foodservice operators. “This is because we’re able to offer consistent supplies, and we can negotiate long-term agreements on price and quality,” he said. “The peppers are washed, graded and sized correctly. Customers always know that when they receive them they will be very uniform, and the quality checks they go through guarantees them top-quality product.”
The company also accommodates the needs of a wide variety of foodservice customers by offering multiple pack options, such as bulk or in bags, and it will mix colors on request. Customers can also request specific grades of peppers, depending on their needs. Mr. Aiton said that the company can accommodate nearly any request.
“We have a huge advantage because we are the grower, shipper, packer and sales agent,” he said. “We have total control over our products from beginning to end.”
Although peppers represent the majority of Prime Time International’s business, it also handles seasonal item such as grape tomatoes, sweet corn and watermelons.
The company has been in the process of trialing some new mini peppers for some time, and they are just now getting into production. Mr. Aiton said that the item will be available in red, yellow and orange, and it will be packed in bags, clamshells or in bulk.
Mr. Aiton said that it is almost impossible to say what categories of foodservice operations end up with the company’s product. “We sell through distribution channels, and that information doesn’t always come back to us,” he said. “But foodservice is certainly an important part of our business. Peppers have so many uses, and they are widely used. You see them in every level of restaurant — from Panda Express and Subway to high-end white-tablecloth establishments — everyone uses peppers.
“The PMA Foodservice Expo has always been a great opportunity for us to meet old customers, talk to new potential customers and it gives us ways to expand our business,” he added.
Mr. Aiton said that he believes everyone has suffered during the current economic downturn, and it is still affecting the foodservice industry.
“Customers tell us that business seems to have perked up a bit in recent times, and others say there are bits and pieces of spurts that offer encouragement,” he said. “That’s good news for us, and it has reflected in our overall sales.”
Prime Time International has been in business for more than 20 years. Its distribution range is quite broad, with penetration across the United States and into Canada.