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Rent Freeze In The Big Apple: Just Another Move To Win Votes And Sock It To Landlords https://www.noktaseksshop.com

So the Mayor of New York City has decided that rents for regulated apartments in New York should be frozen due to the coronavirus. The New York Post ran a story:

Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered the Big Apple’s rent board Friday to freeze rents next year for the city’s regulated apartments, offering new relief to as many as 2 million New Yorkers.

Hizzoner appoints all nine members of the Rent Guidelines Board, which determines rents for roughly 1 million of the city’s 2.2 million apartments.

“I want to see the Rent Guidelines Board act quickly,” de Blasio said at a press conference in Queens. “If you look at the facts, [the Big Apple] is facing the greatest economic crisis in generations and hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers with no livelihood overnight.”

“I think the facts are clear and we need that rent freeze and we need it now,” he added. “We’ll do it quickly in the coming weeks.”

Hizzoner said he asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo to suspend the board during the pandemic to speed the freeze, but potential legal issues derailed that idea.

So now, de Blasio called on the board to meet remotely and formally approve a freeze.

The Board in 2019 approved increases of 1.5% on one-year leases and 2.5% on two-year agreements for the second year running.

Of course, this type of action is a perfect example of politicians abusing a crisis to do things they want done or to win votes.

First of all, whatever the problem in the economy, many, many people are not losing their jobs or taking pay cuts. For example, if you happen to work for the city of New York, you are not getting a pay cut.

Second, even if people need help, this move switches the help from coming from the general population to coming from the owners of apartment buildings. It is identical to declaring that owners of supermarkets or fruit stands can’t raise their prices.

Third, note that the move doesn’t prevent New York City from raising real estate taxes or other vendors from raising fees for repairing property. It is just selecting a class of citizens – owners of residential properties – and making them pay, often to help people who don’t require any help.

Of course, the article goes on to point out that the Mayor, himself, will not be affected by this rule, because the properties he rents out are too small to be covered by the City’s rent regulation:

But economic woes won’t stop de Blasio from collecting rent from the people who live in his home in Park Slope and a second nearby property.

“Our tenants all are employed and all are able to pay,” he said.

Everyone knows that rent regulation is not based on the employment status or a tenant’s capability to pay, and the Mayor’s plan to freeze all rents has nothing to do with tenants’ employment status or financial status.

These are extraordinary times and, indeed, special help may be required for those who are prohibited from working or have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus and its effects.

But the mayor’s plan is just a give-away of other people’s money to many who don’t need any aid.

We need to find a way to limit the power of politicians who are willing to abuse people – like landlords – to win praise, and votes, for themselves.

 




Brave Retailers Comment On Produce Movement In Their Stores, Planning For What May Lie Ahead

Much of our coverage of the coronavirus and its impact on the produce industry has focused on the science or the foodservice industry:

Understanding Risk

Surviving Coronavirus: Baldor’s Trials, Tribulations And Michael Muzyk’s Goal To Keep Everyone Working

Coronavirus/Produce Industry Survival Guide: Specialty Produce Supplier Babé Farms Put To The Test But Meeting The Challenge

Industry Veteran Chuck Weisinger Shares Wisdom On Staying Positive In Response To Coronavirus

CORONAVIRUS INDUSTRY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Microgreens And Edible Flower Grower Fresh Origins Hunkers Down And Prepares For Future Openings Of Restaurants science or the foodservice industry:

No Time To Retire For Tim York, Who Continues To Burn The Midnight Oil While Markon Wrestles With Coronavirus

As foodservice became limited to take-out and delivery, and consumers feared further restrictions, we saw retail boom for a while. Although the big boom was in specific things such as sanitizer, cleaning supplies, etc., there was quite a substantial boom in canned goods and other items that people wanted to stock up on.

Fresh produce at retail, though, also saw a boom as consumers were in retail stores stocking up, and this boom particularly emphasized storage crops such as potatoes.

Our friends at 210 AnalyticsIRI and PMA did a study that showed an increase in produce sales of 34.5% on the week of March 15th! Although we won’t likely see increases like that again, even the week of March 29th showed an increase of 8.1%. Obviously as long as restaurants are closed, we can expect retail sales to be up.

Although growers and distributors who focus on foodservice have been hurt horribly — and there was a short term boost for retail — it is uncertain what the short- and medium-term impact will be of all this.

Many consumers have had someone in their household lose a job. Perhaps they will want to eat the canned soup and other products they stocked up on in fear. Even after things open, we can’t be sure what consumers will be thinking. Will they want to eat at restaurants? Will they be afraid to get too close to other patrons?

We reached out to some of our friends in retail and asked them to share their thoughts and experience with the broader industry. It is a generous act on the part of these individuals and their companies to do so, and we thank them.

Below are comments from:

John Savidan, Gelson’s Markets, Sr. Director, Produce and Floral, Los Angeles, California

Mark Hendricks, Sr. Produce Director, Pyramid Foods, Rogersville, Missouri

Jeff Cady, Director of Produce & Floral, Tops Markets LLC, Williamsville, New York

Josh (Josue) J. Padilla, Director of Produce, Citarella, Bronx, New York

Mike Roberts, Director of Produce Operations, Harps Food Stores, Inc., Springdale, Arkansas

We appreciate the contributions made by these individuals and their companies. We will have more to follow soon.

 




Gelson’s JOHN SAVIDAN Advises Other Retailers:
'Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help'

John Savidan
Sr. Director Produce & Floral
Gelson’s Markets
Los Angeles, California

CURRENT ISSUES

Q: What items are currently selling and which are not selling as much - and why? What is driving sales of these items? How do you anticipate this will change in the next few weeks and what are you doing and planning as a result?

A: Quite honestly, everything is selling very well. There was an obvious uptick in hard good purchasing with items like potatoes, onions, avocados, apples, citrus and root vegetables when the panic buying started. These items continue to be in our top movers along with more of your daily needs items.

Q: Since we are soon entering the bulk of the domestic season for fresh produce in North America, what challenges and opportunities does this provide?

A: I think we’ll have some great opportunities this summer with more export quality fruit being available to us. Being a high-end retailer will put us in a great position to be able to get our hands on these types of programs.

Q: What advice are you giving to growers who are harvesting now and are planning to harvest soon?

A: We have reached out to our local suppliers and have told them we’d be interested in any export quality fruit and to run all of these types of items by us.

Q: With a downturn in foodservice demand currently, how have you as a retailer been able to respond to supply your customers? For example, are you selling more produce via online?

A: We are selling more fresh produce now than we ever have, and we have not had any supply issues other than the norm of weather and gap implications. The majority of our business is still done at Brick and Mortar with customers gathering in our stores — albeit at a distance — to grab their produce needs. 

Q: What is most important to you at this time in working with your growers/shippers/wholesalers?

A: Right now, it’s all about our food being safe for consumption. This means that our growers, shippers and wholesalers need to be cognizant about food safety and keeping the food supply free of harm.

We are in this together, and we need to work closely to make sure our customers in the end feel safe shopping with us and that they continue to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

FUTURE PLANS

Q: What are the top challenges you see in the months ahead in terms of fully supplying your produce departments?

A: It is going to be interesting to see how this all changes the face of our business. My heart and gut tell me that we are going to be OK, and that people will want to continue to eat healthy and search out good fresh produce.

People may switch to more packaged items for the mere fact that it could appear safer when the contents are concealed. In the end, the consumers will be telling us what they want, and it will be our job to make it happen for them.

Q: In the possible economic downturn we might see, how do you see this affecting produce sales overall and the ability to price and promote in the future?

A: I’m sure we will see some bumps in the road where people will be cutting back on their spending, but I do feel it will be more along the lines of the higher priced center-of-the-plate items.

The fresh produce industry is very fortunate to still have some of the lower priced items within the store, especially when you compare to some of the other departments. People still have to eat, and fresh fruit and vegetable consumption is a much healthier option that’s lighter on the pocketbook.

Q: When this crisis is over, will consumers continue to order more produce online?

A: In my opinion, most people want to pick out their own produce rather than take the online route. For me, I really don’t want anyone else picking out my produce, and I feel much safer selecting it myself.

Q: Working through what you are now, what advice would you give to a produce executive in your shoes in the future about what to do?

A: My advice would be to stay calm, and use all of your partner relationships to get you over any hurdles that you may have. Daily planning and monitoring of the business is crucial. Having your finger on the pulse of your business will help you make sounder decisions.

I’d also recommend to not be afraid to ask for help if you don’t have the answers. Let’s face it, we have never had to deal with issues like we have these past few weeks, where decisions are made each day from team collaborations and communications.

 




The New World According To Pyramid Foods’ MARK HENDRICKS, SR.: Old-school Pricing Habits May Shed While New Shopping Habits Arise 

Mark Hendricks Sr.
Produce Director
Pyramid Foods
Rogersville, Missouri

CURRENT ISSUES

Q: What items are currently selling and which are not selling as much - and why? What is driving sales of these items? How do you anticipate this will change in the next few weeks and what are you doing and planning as a result?

A: In our area of the country, it is potatoes, onions, carrots, packaged and processed veggies. The rest is spread out between cooking vegetables, fruit and other packaged products in the produce department. Our customer base is cooking at home and eating out less, so naturally their shopping list has changed with the circumstances.

Q: Since we are soon entering the bulk of the domestic season for fresh produce in North America, what challenges and opportunities does this provide? What advice are you giving to growers who are harvesting now and are planning to harvest soon?

A: Packaging has been at the forefront for years now, and I can’t see that slowing down in the near future. As long as the product is prominently displayed and there are no hidden problems, the customer will buy with confidence — and probably at this point, seems to prefer packaged items to bulk.

Even in our bulk sections, because of the fear of contamination, we have gone to multiple-sized packages for grains, nuts, trail mixes, etc., weighed at random weights.

I think we will still sell and carry much of the same product, but the point of sale may change slightly due to food safety issues.

Q: With a downturn in foodservice demand currently, how have you as a retailer been able to respond to supply your customers? For example, are you selling more produce via online?

A: We have added multiple stores to assist our customers who prefer click-and-collect or home delivery. All departments are included in this service, and where we were mainly offering this in metro areas, we have now moved to smaller towns around our geography to accommodate those customers as well.

We are also leaning toward more packaged snack options with fruit and veggies with more of a grab-and-go mentality display-wise.

Q: What is most important to you at this time in working with your grower/shippers/wholesalers?

A: We need our suppliers to deliver orders in a timely manner — from picking, packing, shipping, slotting to store delivery, with consistency in timing and quality. And, of course, we need them to include food safety throughout all channels.

Q: What are the top challenges you see in the months ahead in terms of fully supplying your produce departments?

A: Weather has always been a challenge and will continue to be the Number 1 challenge, but labor will ultimately become a huge challenge because of the physical nature of the produce industry. As long as workers are brought in from different areas and work in close proximity with each other, the spread of whatever the next pandemic crisis is may become the biggest challenge in the industry during the seasonal harvests.

Also, as states adopt different methods of quarantine, the daily process of shipping commodities from area to area could prove to offer a different set of logistical problems. There should be caution taken in the “deals” that one is offered within the short term. Foodservice specs are not necessarily retail specs where retail commodities are concerned.

Retail buyers should ask the hard questions when it comes to sizes and grades in this new world.

Q: In the possible economic downturn we might see, how do you see this affecting produce sales overall and the ability to price and promote in the future?

A: The old-school method of pricing like we always have may suffer a setback in this new world. Depending on the commodity, there will undoubtedly be upward pressure applied on the cost of goods with labor, food safety, transportation and many other factors involved in setting market pricing going forward.

There needs to be a blend of all the elements to arrive at the new market value, and we need to shy away from .99/lb. because it has always been .99/lb.

At the same time, with a crunch in the workforce and less expendable income, fresh fruits and vegetables may give way in part to the cheaper processed offerings on the grocery side with canned and frozen options. We will just have to wait and see how the overall markets adapt to more costly commodities.

Q: When this crisis is over, will consumers continue to order more produce online?

A: If the change becomes a habit, then it will increase consumption of product ordered online. Many factors will affect the formation of that “habit” though. The expertise of the company offering the items will come in to play — to have the items correctly shown, described, priced and collected will be the determining factor in its success.

The customers will only trust the online medium as long as they see it to be a value, not only with time and safety, but with the quality and selection they receive.

Q: Working through what you are now, what advice would you give to a produce executive in your shoes in the future about what to do?

A: Build your business on relationships that stand the test of time. If you have all your eggs in one basket and have not shown an ability to give as well as take, you could be left out to fend for yourself, which could affect your ability to react when a crisis arrives.

Your customers are building the same relationship with you, one purchase at a time, sometimes over a life time. Our ability to serve our customers, considering the current events, depends on the network of business associates we build as retailers with both our customers and how we deal in business with our partners.

Prioritize your opportunities, both good and bad, and keep an eye on the end goal of being of service to those in need.




Tops’ JEFF CADY Shows Optimistic ‘Light At The End Of Tunnel’: Sales Opportunities For Produce Should Be Huge In Mid-Spring And Summer

Jeff Cady
Director of Produce & Floral
Tops Markets LLC
Williamsville, New York

CURRENT ISSUES 

Q: What items are currently selling and which are not selling as much - and why? What is driving sales of these items?

A: Potatoes, carrots and onions have been the real winners out of the gate. These items are hardy items that can be bought in large quantities and stored. Couple that with their versatility, value, and consumer familiarity in terms of preparation, and that explains a lot.

Apples, particularly bagged options, are doing extremely well. Families are at home, and there isn't a much healthier and easier snack than an apple. Plus it has been known to "keep the doctor away".

Citrus and kiwifruit have seen strong growth. I believe consumers know that Vitamin C is a key vitamin for immune systems, so these are easy items to consume as a health boost.

Fresh-cut fruit cups and fruit & vegetable trays seem to be the only items that have been soft. Since many people aren't going to work, they aren't grabbing fruit cups for breakfast or lunch. The same dynamic is playing out in our carry-out cafes. Fruit and vegetable trays are a victim of the lack of big gatherings. 

Q: How do you anticipate this will change in the next few weeks and what are you doing and planning as a result?

A: I think the panic-buying, for lack of a better term, is over. I think we will continue to see strong sale growth, but the fresher-type items like berries and salads will grow even more, with the hard line items slowing down a bit.

It is happening already. Don't get me wrong… double-digit growth for the hardline-type produce items is expected to continue due to consumers eating at home more often, but the other perishable items should catch up as we move through the end of the crisis. 

Q: Since we are soon entering the bulk of the domestic season for fresh produce in North America, what challenges and opportunities does this provide?

A: Crisis or no crisis, as we move into mid-spring, and the summer holidays come into play, the sales opportunity is huge for fresh produce. Consumers have been at home, and hopefully have gained some confidence in preparing food at home. There should be plenty to choose from.

The challenge will be in harvesting, packing, shipping, etc. We need people to make that happen, and the current situation is creating uncertainty.

Q: What advice are you giving to growers who are harvesting now and are planning to harvest soon?

A: Back to the basics. Focus your efforts on the staples so you can maximize efficiency.
 

Q: With a downturn in foodservice demand currently, how have you as a retailer been able to respond to supply your customers? For example, are you selling more produce via online?

A: We are selling more produce, and just about everything in the grocery store, on-line. Consumers are making the decision to stay home and order on-line. It makes sense especially in this current environment we are in.

We worked with foodservice suppliers to divert the supply from that channel to our channel as there was some short term tightness in the supply chain. Product was out there, just not in the right place. 

Q:  What is most important to you at this time in working with your grower/shippers/wholesalers?

A: My highest hope is that everyone is staying safe. We are in this together and we will come out on the other side stronger than we went in. It is also important that our suppliers know just how great of a job they did during this crisis.

The industry rebounded quickly, and they all played a huge part and should be very proud.

FUTURE PLANS 

Q:  What are the top challenges you see in the months ahead in terms of fully supplying your produce departments?

A: We must have the ability for the supply chain to rebound and get all products back on line. We need labor to do that.

When the restaurants and foodservice come back on line, can the supply chain meet that challenge? Demand will most certainly exceed supply for at least a couple of weeks. Trying to keep all the channels supplied will be a challenge.

Q: In the possible economic downturn we might see, how do you see this affecting produce sales overall and the ability to price and promote in the future?

A: I think produce sales could decrease slightly. Fresh produce, while not expensive, is at times more expensive than other alternatives, including frozen and canned. If consumers are pinching pennies, the reality is there is a less expensive option in some cases.

Our ability to price and promote will be affected, and we will need to find creative solutions to offer value to the consumers who are in that situation.

Q: When this crisis is over, will consumers continue to order more produce online?

A: I definitely think that will be the case. Many first-time users are utilizing that channel and, as their confidence builds, it only makes sense that they will either continue to use it or at least use it occasionally.

Q: Working through what you are now, what advice would you give to a produce executive in your shoes in the future about what to do?

A: Understand that consumer expectations change during a crisis, so don't be too hard on yourself, or the supply chain, when you aren't able to react instantaneously to sharp sales increases. No one can be prepared for the influx in business that was experienced, so do the best you can.

Consumers are well aware that the supply chain has their best interests in mind and, in most instances, are very grateful for the important work you do.

 




JOSH PADILLA At ‘High-End Retailer’ Citarella Sees Opportunities To Add High Quality Niche Items Post-Pandemic

Josh (Josue) J. Padilla
Director of Produce
Citarella
Bronx, New York

CURRENT ISSUES

Q: What items are currently selling and which are not selling as much - and why? What is driving sales of these items? How do you anticipate this will change in the next few weeks and what are you doing and planning as a result?

A: Many base ingredients, such as herbs, mushrooms, family-size packages, packaged vegetables and salads are selling well, as people’s dining options are limited.

Many pre-packaged items are selling better, since people are more secure in our food safety and coronavirus protocols. A lot of our grab-and-go items for snacking, such as parfaits, single serve juices, and small packages, have decreased in sales, since people have stopped going to work, gyms, parks, etc.

We expect that as people get back to work, school and their daily routines, these snacking items will begin to increase. We expect strong produce sales to continue as people’s fears of being around so many others limit their exposure to dining out.

Q Since we are soon entering the bulk of the domestic season for fresh produce in North America, what challenges and opportunities does this provide? What advice are you giving to growers who are harvesting now and are planning to harvest soon?

A: With much of the foodservice buying off the radar, we have been able to get better quality, availability and pricing to move product. This has also been a good time to do category reviews. At this juncture, items that are not selling will probably never sell during the pandemic and shut-down, and it may a good time to be discontinued and replaced with newer or fast-selling items.

I also believe that this is a good time to add some new items. I definitely would recommend growers to increase the acreage to faster-selling items. This is a good time for growers and retail chains to support their local programs to specific stores by going DSD, rather than farm to warehouse.

Q: With a downturn in foodservice demand currently, how have you as a retailer been able to respond to supply your customers? For example, are you selling more produce via online?

A: We have been more in stock with cooking items. We have increased our assortment. As a high end retailer, we still have been able to either consistently sell or increase sales of more niche items to our regular customers as they assume the cooking responsibilities from restaurants.

In addition, our delivery service has increased because of social-distancing measures and customer concerns of contracting COVID-19.

Q: What is most important to you at this time in working with your grower/shippers/wholesalers?

A: Communication on quality and availability are most important. With different grades of produce available on the buying market, we made a concerted effort to procure the best quality available. We have also been in communication with our suppliers on what their COVID-19 plans have been.

FUTURE PLANS

Q: What are the top challenges you see in the months ahead in terms of fully supplying your produce departments?

A: Labor will be a challenge at the both growing, shipping and warehouse end. Being in New York City, the epicenter of the coronavirus, we have seen a high level of people calling in sick and some staff not able to work, which may affect our merchandising and production teams.

In addition, the availability of drivers, who want to come into NYC, has been difficult causing missed trucks and a lot of out-of-stocks. Our partner/growers have been affected with reduced labor availability.

Q: In the possible economic downturn we might see, how do you see this affecting produce sales overall and the ability to price and promote in the future?

A: Catering to high-end consumer, we are not susceptible to pricing and promoting. We may have to further venture into better grades, larger sizing and newer and niche items to differentiate ourselves from the low cost providers.

Q: When this crisis is over, will consumers continue to order more produce online?

A: I truly believe that the social distancing effects of the COVID-19 will continue, causing lower customer counts in stores and higher online produce sales.

Q: Working through what you are now, what advice would you give to a produce executive in your shoes in the future about what to do?

A: Steady the ship. Keep 100% fulfillment of core produce items. Now is the time for analysis and category reviews. Eliminate redundant items.

 




On The Front Lines, MIKE ROBERTS Of Harps Provides Glimpse Of What’s Happening

Mike Roberts
Director of Produce Operations
Harps Food Stores, Inc.
Springdale, Arkansas

CURRENT ISSUES

Q: What items are currently selling and which are not selling as much — and why? What is driving sales of these items? How do you anticipate this will change in the next few weeks and what are you doing and planning as a result?

A: Potatoes, onions and carrots are leading the way. Citrus came on strong last week. People are cooking at home more and snacking at home more as well. I anticipate this trend to continue.

Q: With a downturn in foodservice demand currently, how have you as a retailer been able to respond to supply your customers? For example, are you selling more produce via online?

A: Instacart orders are up significantly.

Q: What is most important to you at this time in working with your grower/shippers/wholesalers?

A: Keeping the strong partnerships we have.

 

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