rio rico, az — “We are really anticipating a good spring,” said Omar Losolla, the vice president of sales and marketing for GreenPoint Distributing LLC. “The volumes have been down on certain commodities in the new year, which has lent itself to better markets. We will see how the next couple of months play out,” he said in mid-January. “We expect good supplies of all items in February, March and April. I think there will be plenty of opportunities for our retail partners to promote items.”
He noted, “We will rely on our retail customers to move product through the pipeline.”
Meanwhile, he said, grower-distributors need to “continue to look at consumer trends and make adjustments to follow buying patterns of consumers.”
There are packaging options for suppliers and a greater interest in organics and sustainability and less waste. It is more difficult for dry vegetable suppliers to be creative in packaging than it is for berry and grape shippers, he added.
“For those of us with dry veg, we have that challenge to get crafty and be more ears than mouth — and listen to our customers and not be afraid to try something new. Nothing is set in stone and the industry is constantly changing. By the time a new idea comes along, it’s already passed. We need to be heavy in [research and development] and be involved in creative ways.”
Losolla noted that the younger generation is coming to the fore “and they will be the biggest segment of buyers of fresh product. We need to make adjustments and tap into that. That is a big challenge but it’s worth the risk and effort. We at GreenPoint look at that and try to further develop it.”
Of the Nogales business coming into 2017 Losolla said, “It’s been a really difficult season. Markets have been depressed since we started in October. But we have got to grind it out and do the best we can to promote our business.”
Experienced companies “survive and go through difficult times,” he said, adding, “This season put a lot of smaller growers to the test. To this point, there has been too much supply. It’s all weather-related. We got La Nina and the hot and dry forecast. That’s great for production but you need to have Mother Nature thin out the overplantings.”
Lessons can be learned from this season. Primarily, he said, the industry collectively “can plan differently when we are putting our programs in place. This will give a lot of people food for thought when they plan, when they have seen how difficult things were.”
GreenPoint will be shipping Romas produced in Obregon, Sonora, through Nogales and McAllen this February. “In March, we will begin our spring watermelon deal in Guaymas and Obregon,” he added.
Late this February, “we will be in full swing with our winter veg and soft squash program. We will be fully into cucumbers and bell peppers out of Culiacan. And we will still be going with our Mandarins until the end of March.”
Losolla added, “By March we will begin our preparation for our summer program in central Mexico.” Plantings will be in the ground by mid-March to be shipping through Nogales and McAllen by the first week of June. In the central highlands, GreenPoint will be using shade houses to produce cucumbers, soft squash, green Bell peppers, eggplant and Romas. The firm this summer will also be shipping watermelon, honeydew and mini-watermelons from high elevation areas of central Mexico. This production is expected to last until mid-October.
GreenPoint export program
The Japanese market is increasingly an outlet for GreenPoint exports.
“Our Japan export program is phenomenal this year,” Losolla said. “We are shipping a considerable volume of exports of grapefruit. And we are talking about shipping broccoli, as well.”
Such international alternatives will be important if trade problems with the U.S. should develop, he added.