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After a strong season so far, auction heads into fall

VINELAND, NJ — The Vineland Produce Auction had a good spring and summer in 2011 and was looking to an equally good fall, with strong volume and high quality, according to Carol DeFoor, who joined the auction April 1.

The 2011 spring and summer “went very well,” Ms. DeFoor told The Produce News Aug. 23. “It was a very good season. Prices were good, and the farmers should have done well.”

Volume so far has been “comparable to previous years, if not better,” she continued. “Dollar volume was higher” than usual, as “volume was very good, very strong.”

The auction, located here in the heart of southern New Jersey, handles an extensive line of items from the Garden State, with peppers, squash, pickles, cucumbers and lettuces among the stronger movers, she noted.

A new 40-foot by 100-foot forced-air cooler with freezer capabilities that opened around April 1 saw good use this season and was “a great help,” said Ms. DeFoor. With the fall weather approaching, the auction will be able to rent space in the cooler to anyone who is interested, she added.

The Vineland Produce Auction introduced in 2010 what it calls a remote auction. In this addition to its electronic system, a buyer installs special equipment on his or her computer, which enables that buyer to access the auction’s proceedings in real time from a remote location.

Originally available only for Vineland Produce Auction buyers, “we are expanding our remote buying,” said Ms. DeFoor. Prospective buyers have to go through certain protocols to get on board, but the system is “working well,” she said.

Looking ahead to the fall, the auction was “starting to see more cabbage, some sweet potatoes and some lettuces coming through again,” Ms. DeFoor said. “Those items will continue to the first frost.”

Asked to describe her inaugural season at the auction, Ms. DeFoor replied, “Interesting. Challenging. It was great.”

And was she surprised by anything? “The volume that comes through here every day” is amazing, she stated. “It’s much more than the average person would think. The auction is a very complex system that’s constantly changing and growing.”

And despite all the hard work, is her new job fun? “Without a doubt,” she declared. “These are great people to work with.”

Finally, on a sad note, Ms. DeFoor said that everyone at the auction was saddened by the recent death of one of their colleagues. Victor Colon, who worked at the auction’s ice house for 19 years, died at home in Vineland Aug. 8 of a brain aneurysm. He was 46 years old.