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Fresh Taste Produce thrilled to see foodservice returning to normal

By
Keith Loria

Canada had some of the strictest protocols during the pandemic, which meant many restaurants were closed and foodservice business declined immensely. But the summer of 2022 paints a different story as things are starting to look almost normal again and business is back to pre-pandemic levels.

That’s good news for Fresh Taste Produce, which ships its produce to wholesalers, retailers, restaurants and foodservice customers throughout Canada and the United States.

“We are a major importer, packer, and distributor of fresh produce with a world-renowned reputation,” said Julian Sarraino, chief operating officer for the Milton, ON-based company. “2022 has been another educational year for our business. Compared to last year, we are seeing a wider range of items regain velocity, especially as so many restaurants have opened up to full capacity again.”

The company is happy with the consistency and glad the government has stopped with all the mandates.

“As we transition back to the ‘new normal,’ we are adapting to the new consumer demand patterns because they’ve changed a bit in the last two to three years,” Sarraino said. “We’re seeing an increased velocity on foodservice side of things for sure. That had withered to almost nothing at one point during the pandemic, which was terrifying.”

Fresh Taste is anticipating continued growth in foodservice as restaurants continue to boom, and its growing partners are ready for the much-needed business.

“Fresh Taste is very fortunate to work with growers that produce exceptional quality, and volume, and we are very involved with our growers at the growing level,” Sarraino said. “The crops are looking very good this year. We’re seeing good quality coming out of the fields and everyone has really put a focus on quality and we’re really happy with what we’re seeing.”

The company works with growers from more than 35 countries, which can be challenging at times.

“The farther away, the longer the trip, so that’s going to impact quality,” Sarraino said. “The other challenge is we’re working with so many different governments and each one has a unique set of rules and regulations, so it’s very complex.”

Rather than just one or twoproduce items trending, as they usually would in a normal year, Fresh Taste is seeing just about every produce category on the rise.

“Nothing is slowing down and I think the reason for that is the only way to go was up after all the restrictions, so it hasn’t topped out yet, and we don’t know when it’s going to stop.” Sarraino said.

The company enjoys working in Canada, with Sarraino calling the area “a strong produce town because of our diversity. The breadth of our product offering and the volumes that come through our facilities is a key indicator of the multiculturalism here,” he said.

As it continues to provide produce 365 days a year to its customers, Fresh Taste continues to look ahead and plans for significant growth initiatives in the next year, details of which will be made public in the upcoming months.

“Our success is predicated on our experience and institutional knowledge that we’ve developed over six generations,” Sarraino said. “Our generation doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, we just try to make it smoother.”

Keith Loria

Keith Loria

About Keith Loria  |  email

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is a D.C.-based award-winning journalist who has been writing for major publications for close to 20 years on topics as diverse as real estate, food and sports. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at magazines aimed at healthcare, sports and technology. When not busy writing, he can be found enjoying time with his wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Jordan and Cassidy.

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