D’Arrigo New York imports apples from around the world
In the 1970s, D’Arrigo New York began selling apples utilizing just local and East Coast growers in New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and South Carolina.
“That became the foundation of our apple business,” said Gabriela D’Arrigo, vice president of marketing and communications for D’Arrigo New York, which operates in the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx, NY. “Now the business is sourcing from all the major apple shipping points as well as importing from around the world.”
Winter apples are an important part of its apple operations and the demand has been steadily increasing throughout the years.
“The apple category is a big part of our company. It is an item that is in demand all year long — it is a staple item,” D’Arrigo said. “The category is a reliable one because it is always active. On average, we are bringing in 20-25 loads all year long.”
Just like any other segment, to be successful in the apple category, a company needs to have the product available, there needs to be variety, and you need to be competitive on price point.
“You have to be big in the game to expand the category within your own business,” D’Arrigo said. “By that I mean, you need to not only be up on every trend, but willing to be in-line with what growers know will be popular, ahead of the trend. If you are not in the know, you will be forever chasing the category. Work with your shippers on the varieties they are trying to get to market.”
It’s also vital to ensure quick turnover of product and keeping the apples cool and not keeping them too long. Otherwise, consumers won’t be happy.
In 2020, the apple crop was smaller than usual and volume was down. D’Arrigo noted 2021 will find the company at the mercy of Mother Nature.
“Like most years, inclement weather has played a role in the crop,” she said. “Outside of that, COVID-19 has affected labor, transportation and buying habits at all levels. But the world doesn’t stop moving. We still need to move forward and keep the supply chain going, that is why we do what we do.”
Overall, the apple category is down roughly 15 percent this year, though in some areas it’s closer to 20 percent.
“The product is smaller and more expensive at shipping point, so by the time it gets to us or the retailer, the consumer is paying more for a smaller product — this will always affect the sale,” D’Arrigo said. “It has been a tough go overall for everyone this year, inside and outside of the industry, and most are in really rough shape. I don’t think you can really compare 2019 and 2020 fairly at all. This winter will be tough but the world won’t stop moving forward and neither will we.”
One of the biggest ways D’Arrigo New York helps retailers and shippers is always being prepared to salvage the sale on any variety.
“Not everything is a winner at retail and when it’s not, it comes to us and we are responsible for finding it home,” D’Arrigo said.
The family-run, fourth-generation company has seen plenty of growth over the years with its customer base mostly independent retail, smaller wholesale and foodservice accounts.
“There is a ton of opportunity for growth this next year,” D’Arrigo said. “Many companies were wiped out from COVID-19 and their customers still need suppliers. We are looking to pick up the business that was lost throughout the year and provide customers with consistency and support as they rebuild their businesses. We’re just grinding it out and making the best of the situation.”