Rocky Produce prepares for a busy summer season
Spring and summer are special seasons for the crew at Rocky Produce because it’s the time of year when locally grown produce starts to make its way into retail stores and in delicious dishes that are created in restaurants and other food service outlets.
“The first of the homegrown vegetables are starting to come in, and it’s always exciting to get involved with locally grown produce,” said Dominic Russo, of Rocky Produce, headquartered in Detroit, MI.
“We do a big job with that, and we have great partnerships with growers who do a great job.”
The Michigan-grown spring items started with vegetables such as asparagus, radishes, kale and greens.
“It’s just getting stated, and as we get more into June, more of our vegetables will come on,” Russo said.
He added that the area also is excited about summer fruits, including California stone fruits, grapes, berries and melons like watermelons, cantaloupes and honeydews.
“This is the time of the year for those,” Russo said.
The company sees this summer as being very promising as the country emerges from quarantine.
“Business is good overall, and the restaurants are back open,” Russo said. “Restrictions have bene lifted, the mask mandates have been lifted, so food service should get back to near 100 percent to where it was. We’ll see what happens — are people going to still be hesitant to go out to eat? Some people will, and some people can’t wait to get out and do more and travel. So it remains to be seen.”
As far the retail side, Russo said that part of the business is steady following the demand that came with the pandemic last year, which resulted in people cooking more at home.
“It’s been great business, steady and strong,” he said. “On the flip side, there’s less urgency and no panicking like there was a year ago, and that created the extra movement on the retail end of things. I think retailers have a better handle on this more stable level of demand, which is good.”
The good times are also bringing some challenges, as Rocky Produce, along with other companies in the industry, is having a difficult time finding labor, which Russo attributes to the extra unemployment benefits people have been receiving.
“We’re having a hard time attracting people to work, whether it’s in the warehouse or truck drivers to handle our delivery needs,” he said. “It’s unfortunate but it is what it is.”
Rocky Produce has earned an excellent reputation as a distributor that delivers its produce across Michigan and throughout the Midwest. That reputation has been earned through expertise, dedication and a lot of hard work.
“We pride ourselves on working very hard,” Russo said. “And we do a good job. There’s no limit to the challenges that we face — there are unlimited challenges but there are unlimited opportunities to work hard and work together. We have a great team and we’ve been together for many years. We have young members and older members, it’s just a great team that works really well together. That makes it always exciting and purposeful. There’s a purpose to what we do and how we’re doing it.”