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TMK Produce sees increased sales in 2022

By
Keith Loria

As long-time merchants on the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, TMK Produce has experienced the ups and downs of the business. The company is pleased to see things starting to get on track again after some uncertainty caused by COVID-19 these past two years.

“I am happy to report that business is feeling more normal than it has since the pandemic began in spring 2020,” said Tom Kovacevich, president of TMK Produce. “Business in 2021 surprised us, as it came in at 97 percent of 2020. Our business is 75 percent retail and of course 2020 saw the huge pandemic related retail surge, so we cannot complain with a such a modest pullback.”

Through the first four months of 2022, TMK Produce is seeing business rise 23 percent ahead of 2021, an increase that can mostly be attributed to a 17.5 percent increase in its selling price average over 2021.

Besides inflation, TMK Produce is dealing with many of the same challenges impacting the entire produce industry.

“People are becoming the scarcest resource,” Kovacevich said. “The pandemic pushed ahead a lot of Baby Boomer retirement plans and this has quickly brought to light that we are facing a real long-term population problem. The American fertility rate has been declining and the pandemic has accelerated this problem. I heard that in the United States, adult diapers are now outselling child diapers, that says a lot. The solution is immigration reform, we need our elected officials to get this done.”

Still, TMK Produce is going through these issues with its customers and they understand what’s happening, and the pandemic strengthened the long-term bonds it has had.

“I see companies adapting, finding new outlets and new ways of distribution. I see completely new relationships forming where foodservice and retail are cooperating for the good of all, and this is a reason I love this business,” Kovacevich said. “We are still people, dealing face-to-face with each other and lifting each other up. I think we come out the other side better, stronger and more connected than ever before.”

He enjoys being part of the Philadelphia scene and feels it’s one of the best in the country.

“Just look around and you can see why Philly is a great location for our produce market,” Kovacevich said. “Philly is the largest port of entry for imported produce in the United States, this also means we have the logistics needed to keep the industry thriving. Philly is also centrally located to so many fantastic local crops — from Pennsylvania peaches, apples and mushrooms to New Jersey peaches, blueberries and vegetables to Delaware veggies and watermelon and so much more. Add all these commodities together and I would guess over 200 million cases of produce are sold in this area annually — now that is a hub.”

Although there’s no plans for any significant growth in the year ahead, Kovacevich noted the company grows by simply concentrating on what TMK Produce does best — offering quality.

“Never has it been harder to sell ‘off’ merchandise and never has it been easier to sell quality,” he said. “However, the consumers’ willingness to pay the higher prices we’ve been experiencing will be tested in the coming months as rising fuel costs begin to rob the shoppers of disposable income.”

Keith Loria

Keith Loria

About Keith Loria  |  email

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is a D.C.-based award-winning journalist who has been writing for major publications for close to 20 years on topics as diverse as real estate, food and sports. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at magazines aimed at healthcare, sports and technology. When not busy writing, he can be found enjoying time with his wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Jordan and Cassidy.

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