J.J. Jardina finds growth during pandemic
J.J. Jardina Co., a wholesaler founded in 1935 and currently being run by the third generation, has had a challenging year like everyone else in the industry, but they have found growth in various segments and with specific products.
“Sales for pre-packed fruit and veg are expanding,” said Chief Executive Officer Mike Jardina. “Bag items in fruit and veg are strong. Also organic items are expanding. We support Georgia Grown (Georgia Department of Agriculture promotion program). Georgia Grown has been in high demand.”
Located in the Atlanta State Farmers Market in Forrest Park, GA, outside of Atlanta, the company has long specialized in core fruit crops, such as citrus and apples. “Basically, we serve the entire Southeast: Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas to name a few,” he said. “Our location and our strong logistics are our advantage.”
Noting the same COVID-19 experience as most of the national produce community, the Jardina executive said the retail sector has been very strong and though foodservice business was initially hit hard, it is coming back slowly. “We probably had 20 percent of our business in foodservice prior to COVID,” he said. “That dropped to around 10 percent post virus, but it has been coming back some lately.”
Jardina said the company’s main focus over these past nine months has been the constant effort “to keep all our employees and customers safe… so far, so good.”
He reiterated that pre-packed and pre-bagged produce items have been in high demand this year, but its core fruit items “are still topping the list.”
With regard to organic, Jardina said the wholesaler has been handling that sector for the past seven or eight years and became a certified organic handler three years ago. “We do not stock a full line,” he said, noting that most of its sales come from special orders from their existing customers. “Our best sellers are apples and pears.”
The firm sources its organic supplies from many different exporters in various countries. Jardina said he has not had problem finding supplies.
The company’s legacy is in good hands, according to the company president, noting that the fourth generation of the family tree has joined the team. His daughter Margaret Jardina is involved in the bookkeeping department, and his nephews Jamie Morrison and Jack Jardina are working in the warehouse and in sales.