Turek Farms moves forward during challenging times
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, produce professionals have talked about ever-increasing strong sales as people cooked at home more and were anxious to incorporate healthy foods into their diets.
The re-opening of restaurants gave the industry a boost as well, but when talking about 2022, Jason Turek said sales have slowed down.
“The best way I could describe is it’s just been pretty sluggish, really lackluster,” said Turek of Turek Farms, based in King Ferry, NY. “When freight rates are so high, it just makes it hard to logistically move stuff up the road for what we we’ve been selling them for in the past. Costs are way up. Our fertilizer costs have doubled from a year ago and box costs are ridiculous. It’s over $3 for a cabbage box, we’re having a hard time getting our arms wrapped around all the costs there.”
Therefore, he noted, the best approach to counter those challenges is to trim production back a bit, and he said this year’s crop is going to be the most expensive Turek Farms has grown. There is promising news in regard to this year’s crops, and while conditions could change, things were looking “desirable” in early June.
“We certainly have a long way to go before we’re harvesting anything, but things have kind of gone in a timely manner this year,” Turek said, noting that it’s one of the better-looking crops he’s seen at this time of year. Turek Farms’ history in New York dates back four decades, beginning during the Depression when Jason’s great-grandfather was laid off from his job as an auto worker.
“He set out looking to do something different, packed all of his belongings and kids in a car and ended up on a 40-acre farm here. The rest is history,” Turek said. “Corn has always been our big crop, but we’re pretty diverse. We grow summer squash, winter squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, winter squash.”
Up until 1995, the company grew just sweet corn, and it has since focused on diversifying its offerings. “We’re lucky enough that we can move some acres around in a year like this when we’re less optimistic about the vegetable industry,” Turek said. “We can shift some of our acres into field corn and soybeans and still have to plant on our grounds.” He added that during these difficult times, the staff at Turek Farms finds support from other people in the business.
“We spend a lot of time venting — venting to one another and that makes you realize you’re not going through this thing alone,” he said. That support has also helped him, and the company, deal with the loss of his father, who passed away last August. “I worked with him my entire life, so there’s a different feeling around here all around,” Turek said. And there is no doubt that Jason Turek and the staff at Turek Farms are dedicated to upholding the legacy of his father — and generations of his family members.