Experience and knowledge are key to D’Arrigo New York’s success
Since its founding in 1948, D’Arrigo New York has established itself as a leader in the New York State produce industry. The experience of its leaders and staff have helped it navigate numerous challenges over the last two years, and it appears that things are heading in the right direction for the company in 2022.
“Progressively, business has gotten better,” said Gabriela D’Arrigo, vice president of marketing for the company, which operates as part of the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx. “Volumes have picked up. We’re definitely not back to where we were, but we are seeing numbers that are trending in an upward direction, which is positive. Outside of that, we’re dealing with the other challenges, hot button topics like freight and logistics, supply chain issues and lag, and stuff like that.”
While many in the produce industry have expressed concerns in areas such as labor, those things have been issues for decades and the company knows how to get by.
“This is stuff that we’re used to dealing with and we’ve been a very resilient industry,” D’Arrigo said. “It really just comes down to, ‘people have to eat,’ so we’re going to find a way to get it done. But water, labor — all of these things have been issues for produce for a long time coming so it’s not like this is a surprise to us.”
She also said freight is another hot-button topic that the industry has been dealing with for years.
“Whenever there is a seasonality change or growing region change or transition, or weather, that affects freight,” D’Arrigo said. “If you’ve been in the industry for a long time, none of this is something that is so groundbreaking or such a shock to the system that you don’t know how to handle it or haven’t found some avenue of how to at least face it.”
D’Arrigo New York recently made some big changes, including adding an assistant human resources director to its staff.
“As the company has grown, we have also expanded into a third facility here in the South Bronx, so with that comes more personnel, and more personnel means we need more help and making sure that we’re managing everything appropriately and that employees are taken care of,” D’Arrigo said.
Also new to the staff is a food safety director. “He comes from a different industry, but has a world’s worth — a lifetime’s worth — of experience,” she said. “He’s going to help us shift and change a little bit of what we’re doing and get us more in line with the new up-and-coming food safety regulations coming down the road. He’s familiar with other industries that have already had to do that, so we wanted to bring in some experience there to help us and direct us in the right way.”
Another addition to the company was bringing on a director of its organics division. “He actually is within the industry, and he has been in organics for longer than organics has really been organics,” D’Arrigo said. “He was part of that founding group, if you will, of introducing organics to our industry. He’s been pivotal in growing that area, leading us in the right direction and even touching on specialty items that are definitely trending upward.”
While D’Arrigo says her family’s company would like to expand and grow its operation, it takes tremendous pride in being founded in New York, the largest food city in the country.
“Everybody looks to New York,” she said. “New York usually has its finger on the pulse. Look at what happened during the height of COVID-19 — all eyes were on New York. Whatever was happening here tended to trend throughout other major cities. It’s almost like it’s New York or bust. At least that’s our mentality.”