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Bob Donio: Summer was good but rains may affect the fall deal

hammonton, nj — New Jersey’s 2017 summer produce deal was generally good with good markets, although recent rains have had an impact, according to Bob Donio, vice president of Frank Donio Inc. And the fall deal may be affected as well, depending on how much precipitation the Garden State actually receives going forward.

“The summer was really pretty good,” Donio told The Produce News Wednesday, Aug. 16, at his office, here. “The markets were good. The blueberry market was the best it’s ever been.”

As to New Jersey vegetables, he said, “All the vegetables were very good early. The early squash was really good, the early peppers were really good, the early cucumbers were really good. Then in August, markets were low, but that’s normal for August.”

He continued, “Quality was very good early on, but we’re starting to see some issues now with all the rains we’ve had.”

NJfall4857Bob Donio with Jersey tomatoes on Aug. 16.Asked if those rains could affect the upcoming fall deal in the state, Donio replied, “It’s going to be interesting. We’ve had a lot of storms. There were thunderstorms almost every day. Some areas got more rain than others. It’s hard to get into the fields. It should be an interesting fall. We’ll see what happens.”

The rains not withstanding, the fall deal in the Garden State generally gets going around the first to second week in September “for the first fall items,” said Donio. “We’ll start with most of the greens, the lettuce, some fall squashes and ornamental squash. Then we’ll have cauliflower and sweet potatoes.”

And the fall deal is important to Frank Donio Inc., as it is to most companies involved. “With the trend that everyone wants local product, it’s a big part of our deal to offer retailers local product,” he said.

In addition to looking ahead to the fall deal, Bob Donio and the other executives and staff are right in the middle of a major project to enlarge and enhance the offices as well as provide new, ultra modern spaces.

As detailed by The Produce News in late May, the project will transform 7,000 square feet of space at the firm’s facility here in southern New Jersey. It will include state-of-the-art IT accommodations and brand new offices for the executives and sales staff, who for years have been working in small and increasingly cramped space.

“We’re hopefully finishing Phase 1: opening of the new offices in the area that was previously a storage area,” Donio said during this Aug. 16 interview. Many of the executives and salespeople will move to those new offices right away.

As the project progresses, the accounting and clerical staff will also move — temporarily — into the brand new offices while their existing space is completely refurbished and redone, explained Donio. That office sharing is expected to last about six to eight months, with the accounting and clerical staff returning to their existing area once it has been finished. All of the salespeople will then move be able to move permanently to the brand new offices.

A new entrance and reception area are also part of the new construction.