The Packer’s Tom Karst visited April 1 with Paul Manfre, general manager of Top Katz LLC, Bronx, N.Y.
Manfre, now working in the firm’s Texas office, talks about his early days in the produce business, selling bananas in the fashion district in New York City, and grapes out of a car near the port authority.
“I pretty much did everything you could do in this industry,” Manfre said, noting that he has lived in Costa Rica, Mexico and India during his career.
“I have been a chain store buyer, I’ve been a terminal market salesman, I’ve been in wholesale, I’ve been in foodservice and I have been in every (part) of it,” he said.
Fast forward to 2020, and Manfre believes aggressive produce promotion by retailers is needed to help growers move through unprecedented market conditions caused by COVID-19.
“No one’s ever seen anything like this before; I’ve been through everything but not this,” he said. That leaves retailers in the most important position, he said.
“Retailers are the only link, because with foodservice decimated, you really don’t have any other options but to sell to consumers,” he said.