General Discussion

Grumpy farmers and the produce racket


General Discussion 1

Grumpy farmers and the produce racket

Kontxesi | May 8, 2014 07:06 PM

This is just a rant. It got me pretty steamed, and none of my friends care about the wholesale value of produce, so.... I thought I'd lay it on you guys.

I got a really interesting call from a farmer today. On my personal cell phone, which irritated me, but that's another matter entirely. He's not someone we've ever worked with before, that I know of. He said he'd been talking with one of the other folks that grow for us, and he was wondering if we needed any asparagus for next week.

I said no, that I had already ordered our asparagus for Tuesday. "What do you charge per pound?", I asked, thinking we could try him the following week.

$4.00/lb. "Ooh, yeah. That's a little high for us. We're paying about $2.50/lb right now." I immediately winced. I knew my boss wouldn't have wanted me to tell him how much we actually paid.

"2.50 a pound? So you're buying it from Kroger and Wal-Mart then."

We're a CSA-alternative local produce subscription company. Of course I'm not buying from freaking Wal-Mart. I couldn't even respond to him. I just kind of let him keep going on about how he couldn't even pay his guys to cut it for that, etc....

Eventually I spoke up and said I could give him the owner's number if he wanted to talk over the price with him. "Oh, no, I'm not going to go through that. I've got a lot coming up like RIGHT NOW...."

"Well, like I said, we've already ordered for this week, so I'm sorry I can't take any of it off your hands. We'll see what happens next week."

I mean, really. Is that how he plans on winning new business? Of COURSE I'll drop my cheaper supplier! Your GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE is worth the extra money!

I mean, seriously. What am I supposed to retail that for? Even $2.50 is kind of a stretch. When a pound of asparagus is $1.99-$2.99 in the grocery store, you have to be a pretty committed locavore to pay $6.25 a pound.

And actually, that brings me to another question. I know there are a few others around here who work in produce in some capacity. What is the usual markup on produce? I'm supposed to start at 250% and then adjust it as seems reasonable. Before I became the office manager, I thought that was astronomical. Now that I'm keeping track of the books, it seems like even that is barely enough.... But maybe my boss is just really inefficient. I'd be interested to see how it compares.

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