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Basciani aims to advance customer service at PMA Foodservice show

Michael Gagel, sales representative for Basciani Foods in Avondale, PA, told The Produce News that the company is looking forward to meeting with customers and prospective customers at the July 29-31 Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference & Exposition in Monterey, CA, where it hopes to learn what it can do to advance its service to them.

The company will be exhibiting at booth number 130. Mr. Gagel said, “I’ll be joined there by Ed Casel, also a sales rep; Fred Recchiuti, general manager of the company; and Michael Basciani, vice president. This show offers a tremendous amount of convenience for us and for our customers because everyone is in one place. We learn what they need from us, and we learn what we can do for them.”

Basciani Foods is a major producer of all sizes of white mushrooms, as well as exotic varieties. The company packs for national retail grocery chains and for foodservice distributors.

“We grow 1.2 million pounds of mushrooms a week,” said Mr. Casel. “Our strength is in the basics like whites, Portabellas and Criminis … Shiitakes, Oysters and Maitakes. Much of our business is selling direct under contract, and we sell to distributors under contract.”

Mr. Gagel has been with Basciani Foods for eight years, and he has attended the PMA Foodservice Conference & Exposition six times on the company’s behalf. “We are basically a foodservice company,” he said. “About 80 percent of our business is in foodservice, and the balance is in retail. However, we are stepping up our promotional efforts toward the retail trade in the future.”

Monterey, he said, is a small, close-knit town, which is another advantage for expo attendees. “It doesn’t matter where you go in the town to dine or where you’re staying: You always run into other produce people,” Mr. Gagel added. “That makes it additionally nice because you can connect with people even on a personal level.”

Mr. Recchiuti announced that the company is getting ready to open a new Basciani farming facility in Independence, LA, which is north of New Orleans.

“We’re in the final steps there, and it should be ready by August 1,” he said. “It will produce about 60,000 pounds a week of all mushroom varieties.”

Mr. Recchiuti explained that the company is dedicated to serving the market in that region. “With the heat and humidity contributing to perishability in that area of the country, we wanted to be able to service customers there with the freshest and most local product,” he said. “Louisiana is very generous with its Buy Local campaign, and given the economic condition there, we feel it’s important to keep jobs in the state.”

The Louisiana Buy Local web site lists over 20,000 farmers markets, growers and grower associations, enabling consumers to search out local producers and retailers easily and efficiently.

The new Louisiana facility also means new key staff members for Basciani Foods. The company has hired John Santangelo as manager of the new farm.

“We are also looking forward to some expansion at our Pennsylvania farm in the near future,” said Mr. Recchiuti. “And we’re working on some sustainability projects to ensure that we remain the lowest-cost mushroom producer in the market.”

Basciani Foods has additional operations in Chicago and Minneapolis. The company distributes its mushrooms across the United States and into Canada.