Sonny Boy adds produce sales vet Greg Caveng to the team
As a fourth-generation grower/shipper of fresh produce, Sonny Boy Produce has a global reach, and fall is of utmost importance to the company because it’s the beginning of the end of the year.
“We get back into some good volume for wet and specialty items that’s a good grab for our customers, but also gives a nice push to cap off the local deal and head toward the final quarter of the year,” said Tom Consalo, president of the Vineland, NJ-based company. “We market hard to all of our customers but find that we have good demand from here in the tri state area as well as New England and eastern Canada as well.”
Among the top local items for Sonny Boy in the fall are peaches, sweet potatoes, hard squash, lettuces, cooking greens, and specialty items like broccoli crowns, broccoli rabe and fennel.
“The local fall deal can account for up to 20 percent of our sales,” Consalo said. “Overall, we do around 30 percent of the year’s sales between September 1 and December 1, but most of that is either western or imported blueberries so it’s generally between 10-20 percent of the year’s sales. Needless to say, it is critical time for our company and for New Jersey produce as a whole.”
Despite the success, Consalo noted it’s super important to create awareness of availability in the fall.
“With so many other areas harvesting, we have to market ourselves responsibly and let customers know we’re players,” he said. “We can get aggressive on running ads and promotions and we have to be outspoken about that to move product.”
Last year, the fall proved to be a strong one with good quality and movement, on par with prior years with consistency and quality thanks to no major weather events.
“This year, the crops are looking excellent as well,” Consalo said. “Although its seems like the heat is killer right now, it’s a bit cooler than last year which allows for good consistency and quality on upcoming items. We are looking to move some more volume than last year with some more items in the ground and some new opportunities that we are exploring.”
In New Jersey, Sonny Boy tries to keep everyone close in the industry to work together to market New Jersey produce to make things profitable for all.
“We are proud of our area and what we can do, and the better the area does as a whole, the better Sonny Boy does as a company,” Consalo said. “We’re a cheerleader for our cohorts and competition throughout and the fall is no different.”
Looking ahead to 2024, Consalo sees opportunity in expanding sales through networking and creating awareness of Sonny Boy’s capabilities in an ever-evolving industry.
“We are blessed to have great support and we will continue to expand on that through creating brand recognition and pushing for more of Sonny Boy label in our customers’ stores,” Consalo said. “Stores can be pushing hard on the Jersey Fresh campaign to increase sales here locally as well as offer the variety that New Jersey has to offer in both conventional and organic items. We can be collaborative in merchandising efforts as well and make sure that there are plenty of produce in the ad space on retail circulars.”
Behind the scenes, Sonny Boy recently brought on a new vice president of sales and marketing, Greg Caveng.
“Greg is an awesome personality and brings over 30 years of experience in the produce industry,” Consalo said. “We are excited for this because he brings a lot to the table with diversifying our scope in both sales and sourcing. Greg has a wealth of knowledge and experience with fruit and imports that are cohesive with many of our current programs but will bring new ones as well.”
Photo: Bob Consalo and Tom Consalo