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Expansion to triple frozen capacity for Piazza

Piazza Produce Inc., headquartered in Indianapolis, broke ground on its new freezer there June 10. “This will add about three times the freezer space we currently have,” President Pete Piazza told The Produce News.

The company was founded by Pete Piazza and his father, Paul, in 1970. In 1997, Piazza Produce joined with another Indianapolis produce supplier, Indianapolis Fruit Co., and in 2007 Piazza Produce acquired McCartney Produce in Paris, TN. Piazza Produce distributes an array of items to foodservice customers, and Indianapolis Fruit Co. moves commodities to retail partners.

PiazzaProducePete Piazza, president of Piazza Produce Inc., displays some of the premium tomatoes the company supplies to its foodservice customers. (Photo courtesy of Piazza Produce Inc.)The company’s approach to business is stated in its tagline: “Produce a fresh experience together. Piazza Produce goes beyond the basics to help customers run their operations more effectively and to generate more profitable sales.”

Piazza said the company carries a full manifest of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as value-added items.

“Our list of frozen and nonfrozen items continues to grow,” Piazza said. “We have picked up a lot of specialty items.”

One of the hot-ticket items is dry spices. “Our spices are fresher and more intense,” he stated. “Dry spices have really taken off. There’s a market for it here.” He said the moisture level of these spices helps Piazza Produce distinguish itself with a superior product.

Because Piazza Produce inventories its specialty items, customer orders are filled quickly. “We’re convenient,” Piazza added.

The company’s “Buy Fresher” line of locally grown products has been positively received by regional restaurants and foodservice customers. “We keep getting more farmers [signed on],” Piazza said. “There’s a lot of demand for local product.” Local produce and items are sourced in Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan.

Last year, Piazza Produce launched its Taste of the Seasons program, which breaks down availability of fresh items throughout the year. The sales force makes planners available to customers each quarter, one month ahead of the start of each season.

Meal planners at schools can also take advantage of their own program. Piazza said planners are available coinciding with the academic year and help schools provide students with healthy food options. “The school business has grown a lot in the past year,” he stated. “Serving size guidelines have really helped. We’re doing a lot of portion control.”

According to Piazza, the Taste of the Seasons program gives the company increased opportunities to move both fresh produce and specialty items.

Marketing Director Marcus Agresta said social media continue to play an important role in the company’s marketing activities. “People want quick, credible information,” he stated. Social media postings now include short videos. “It helps us to get a real live presence,” he noted.