Maurice A. Auerbach Inc. gears up for productive New York Produce Show
Presenting a virtual version of this year’s New York Produce Show is, of course, a necessity because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though this step is one that brings with it a lot of uncertainty, Bruce Klein, marketing manager for Maurice A. Auerbach Inc. said there have been some positive examples at other virtual trade shows, such as the PMA event.
“They were able to look at new items and see them, and I guess they could order samples, but they could look at these new items without somebody breathing down their neck and trying to sell to them, that’s something that could be very useful,” Klein said. “These shows were designed for building relationships and networking, so it’s very difficult to do that virtually but you can do a lot of things virtually, a lot of things are working out very well virtually.”
Maurice A. Auerbach has participated in the New York show every year since it began, and the annual showcase is of particular importance for the company.
“It’s probably the best show we do all year,” Klein said. “We receive a variety of all our customers, we have a spot in a great location and the turnout is tremendous. It’s actually relatively easy to set up the show, so for all these reasons, it’s an excellent show.”
Based in Secaucus, NJ, Maurice A. Auerbach is a go-to source for garlic, as it’s the largest garlic and specialty produce distributer in the Northeast. And like everyone else in the produce world, the company is experiencing a busy holiday season with a lot of unknowns, again because of the pandemic.
“You could actually say that sales might be up because more people are doing a small Thanksgiving,” Klein said. “I’ve heard some store owners say they’re ordering 20 to 30 percent fewer big turkeys and 20 to 30 percent more smaller turkeys. And if they’re celebrating in smaller groups, they may end up spending more money. Nobody knows what’s going to happen.”
Maurice A. Auerbach has navigated these unprecedented times in part because its business is spread out among several sources, including retail, foodservice, recipe companies and produce markets like Hunts Point and Philadelphia.
“So, while the retail business went up, foodservice went down. Restaurants were starting to come back, but with the pandemic getting worse, will they start closing some of the restaurants or will they take away indoor dining? You’re going to see the business go back to retail because as it gets colder, people aren’t going to want to eat outside, so they’re going to start going back to supermarkets or ordering products from the meal kit and recipe companies,” Klein said. “We try to position ourselves where we’re not focused on just one aspect of the food distribution business.”
The last few weeks have offered a much-needed ray of light as news in the development of vaccines has been promising, which means the company, and the rest of the world, can look forward to a day next year when life becomes normal again.
“Then hopefully we’ll be able to go out and start visiting customers like we used to do,” Klein said. “We want to go back to going to shows and participating in those shows and getting back to networking. We haven’t been doing these things for eight months — thankfully business has been good, and we’ve been taking care of our existing customers. That’s always our priority but we’d still like to grow the company.”