Companies in this industry distribute fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs. Major companies include Caito Foods Service, Coast Citrus Distributors, FreshPoint, and Tom Lange Company (all based in the US), as well as Fresh Produce Group (Australia), Fyffes (Ireland), IG International (India), Oppenheimer Group (Canada), Tokyo Seika (Japan), and Total Produce (Ireland). Vertically integrated fruit and vegetable producers such as Chiquita, Dole, and Del Monte have major global distribution operations.
Demand is driven by consumption of fruits and vegetables. Profitability depends on maintaining a high quality and varied selection of produce and on efficient operations. Larger distributors benefit from economies of scale in purchasing and transportation. Smaller companies may compete by specializing in certain products, such as tropical fruits or organic products, or by focusing on a geographical area. The US industry is fragmented: the 50 largest companies account for about 35% of industry revenue.
Products, Operations & Technology
Distributors' main operations involve getting fruit and vegetables from producers to customers, which include food retailers and foodservice providers. Major products include fresh fruits (about 55% of industry revenue), whole fresh vegetables (30%), and prepackaged fresh-cut vegetables (10%). Distributors may also offer products such as fresh spices, herbs, seasonal nuts, salad dressings, tofu, juice, or flowers. Some companies specialize in exotic produce and staples of various ethnic cuisines, such as enoki mushrooms and lotus root (which are used in many Asian dishes) or corn husks and cactus pads (common ingredients in traditional Latin American foods).