A.J. Trucco Inc. is back in the pineapple business.
Nick Pacia, vice president of the firm, located on the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Market, told The Produce News that the company is readopting a pineapple program.
“We started in early April with the Golden pineapples through a direct deal with growers in Costa Rica,” said Mr. Pacia. “This variety is well-known for its flavor. Once we are certain that this will be a permanent part of our lineup, we’ll begin to develop our own label for it.There is competition in the pineapple category, but we believe there’s enough business for everyone.”
A.J. Trucco does a major business with kiwifruit from Italy, Chile and New Zealand.
“Italian kiwifruit is winding down now, and it runs at the same time as Chilean fruit,” he said on May 4. “Movement from New Zealand will start in the next couple of weeks. It’s been a great season for Italian kiwifruit. The quality has been excellent and we pushed the program three weeks longer than in the past, to about May 15. But the New Zealand crop is expected to be about 30 percent lower than normal. The will undoubtedly drive prices higher.”
Chilean kiwifruit, he added, runs from about mid-April through September. The New Zealand program runs through the end of October.
A.J. Trucco is well- known in the industry for its Italian chestnuts, which run year round, but it enjoys a real bump in business beginning in the fall and through the winter holidays.
Several months ago it added a roasted, peeled and ready-to-eat chestnut items to its lineup. The 3.5-ounce aluminum bag is packaged under environmental conditions that keep the chestnuts fresh. It is currently sold under the “Sweet Nature” label, but Mr. Pacia said the company will develop its own label for the item in the future.
“These, like our fresh chestnuts, are from Avellino, Italy,” said Mr. Pacia. “The region is known around the world for its high-quality chestnuts. We’ll start with fresh chestnuts from producers there again in October.”
Dried fruits and nuts are a year-round business for A.J. Trucco. Mr. Pacia said that bulk nut prices have been high because of the high demand for exports.
“We hope in the coming season that there will be less stress on nut prices,” he said. “We cover a full range that comes from both domestic and foreign sources.”
Prices have been up a little on dried fruits, he added, but not badly. Demand continues to be strong, and there have been no hiccups in this category.
New Zealand apples are also a new program for the company. It is handling Royal Gala and Fuji varieties. Mr. Pacia said the program started around mid-April.
“This program will run throughout the summer months,” he said. “We hope to have supplies for a few months, but that may change. As of now we expect to finish up with New Zealand apples around June or July.
“We increased our Royal Gala apple program from Chile this year,” he continued. It started a month early, and runs for about three months. It may be extended this year.”
A.J. Trucco is in its second year of importing fresh figs. Mr. Pacia said it is importing Black Mission figs from Chile. It expects to double its volume this year. The figs come in single-layer trays and eight-ounce clamshells. The program runs from December through mid-May.
“Fresh figs from the California desert will start next week [May 7],” said Mr. Pacia. “This, added to our Chilean program, means that we will now have fresh figs year round. We handle green figs from California early in the season, and then transition to Black Mission figs later in the season.”
Mr. Pacia also gave a major shout-out to Vessey & Co. in Holtville, CA, which supplies A.J. Trucco with fresh red garlic from Mexico.
“We also handle Vessey’s new-crop white garlic from the Baja region,” he added. “This is an outstanding company that we’ve been doing business with for over 40 years.”
A.J. Trucco is a prime example of the sound relationships that exist in the produce industry. Last October, Anthony Sharrino, president of Eaton & Eustis Co., located at the New England Produce Center in Chelsea, MA, told The Produce News that he starts every day with a pre-dawn phone call from Sal Vacca, president of the A.J. Trucco. We asked Mr. Vacca why he made this a daily ritual.
“I did business with Anthony’s grandfather, and in 1949 I started working with his father,” said Mr. Vacca. “We still do business with them, but my phone call every morning is not about business. It’s a salutation that is sincere in friendship.”