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Nardelli Bros. set up for another great New Jersey season

Bill Nardelli, president of Cedarville, NJ-based Nardelli Bros. Inc., told The Produce News that the spring weather in New Jersey started out very well, but then turned cold. By mid-May it was still on the cool side, but hopes were that it would continue to warm up, bringing on strong supplies of high-quality produce.

“We have spread our risk over the past several years,” explained Nardelli. “In addition to New Jersey, we grow in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and into upstate New York in the heat of summer. We offer 80 to 100 commodities on a year-round basis.”

He noted that prices were cheap in the south due to competition, but things were firming us nicely in mid-May.

USE-THIS-ONE-Nardellis-in-fieldBill Nardelli, president of Nardelli Bros., flanked by his sons Jimmy on the right and Bill Jr. on the left.“We’re transitioning into New Jersey,” said Nardelli. “Leaf items have started, and we’ll be coming into all our wet items shortly. Cabbage will start by late May.”

New Jersey squashes will also start in late May, followed by pickles, cucumbers and beans in early June.

Customers, he explained, were looking forward to the Jersey crop because California was struggling with some quality issues.

“We have good, quality crops in Jersey,” he said. “All items we’re harvesting are mature. Products that grow slowly due to cool snaps are much better quality, and we’re doubly fortunate to be coming into good supplies.”

Crops are expected to progress at a normal pace.

He explained that it’s most important for a producer like Nardelli Brothers to provide consistent supplies of product throughout the year to keep customers supplied and coming back.

“We need consistent business every day in order to survive,” he pointed out. “In a volume operation like ours we need to know what customers want for the entire year. While we can’t control supply and demand, we do our best to stay efficient and provide what they need.”

“We are spreading out a bit even here in Jersey,” Nardelli continued. “We try to minimize risk factors, such as weather, as much as possible, so we take on several small family farms that are under our umbrella for food safety, packaging options and everything else needed in this business.”

Like other major growers, Nardelli said labor continues to be an issue.

“We would like to see a course of direction on immigration going forward,” he said. “Regardless of how high the unemployment rate is, you can’t find U.S. citizens who will do this type of labor. We want our workforce in this country, regardless of if they are immigrants or citizens, to make good wages, and we want that reflected in our products.”

Nardelli works side-by-side with his sons, Bill Jr. and Jimmy, and is proud of the job they are doing in the business.

“They represent the fifth generation of Nardelli family members to operate the business,” said Nardelli. “Not only are they far ahead of the older generation in technology and growing methods, they also come into the business with a new outlook. It’s old-school values, but with new techniques. My wife, Sandy, and I have always instilled in our sons that they’ll never go wrong with honesty, quality and a little humility.”

He also shared his thinking on imports that come into the country at extremely low prices.

“We need to hedge our bet one way or another,” he stressed. “I’m all for free trade, but we need some type of regulatory policy that doesn’t allow other countries to dump cheap product in the U.S. and prevent us from making a living. At the same time, we have to maintain good relationships with our neighboring countries. Our government politicians need to meet in the middle, share ideas and come up with a compromise where everyone has some give and take.”

He also acknowledged the many people who represent Nardelli Bros.’ success.

“A lot of good people are responsible for our success, and we don’t forget it for a second,” he said. “And we thank them for being such good partners.”