With offices in New York, Produce Sensation, an importer and distributor of fresh produce, takes advantage of the many local markets in the area. But it's their ability to go into many small markets across the country that has brought them good business.

“We carry between 30 and 40 items from about 20 shippers spread out across the world,” said Eyal Nahoumovic, general manager of Produce Sensation. “Not many companies import from so many continents, they will often just have suppliers in South America or Spain or something like that, but we import from many countries.” That variety helps them keep a large roster of speciality and exotic produce. Their biggest item is the persimmon, and Nahoumovic estimated they import between 70 and 80 containers of the fruit every season, and that amount of fruit could get bigger because Nahoumovic sees supplies from Spain increasing.

Produce Sensation also annually imports about 50 containers of Chinese pears, about 20 of Orr clementines from Israel, 70 of Thai coconuts, 15 of lychee, 3 of mangosteen from Thailand, 3 of kiwis from Italy, 35 of Peruvian murcotts, 10 of Chinese chestnut, 40 of Israeli Carrot, 2 of Israeli Litchi, 4 of S.A Persimmon, 10 of Peruvian Mango and 2 of Loquat, Spain. That lineup of products allows them to supply between 80 and 100 customers throughout the United States. Nahoumovic is able to do that because of the modern, robust information and transportation systems now available. But that logistics infrastructure, both in the United States and around the world, can also lead to some problems.

“I'm looking at many shippers that just don't know the business of marketing,” said Nahoumovic. “Logistics makes everything available, so there are people that simply say 'ship to me,' and it's messed up because they are not professional. People think they can make money easily, but there are many factors that people aren't always aware of.” Diminished barriers to entry encourage more people to enter the market, not always to good effect. But whether new entrants are professional or not, more players means more competition, and that leads to what Nahoumovic refers to as a dogfight between competitors.

“My biggest threat isn't something big, like the economy or the exchange rate,” said Nahoumovic. “My biggest challenge is just dealing with the daily marketing of fresh produce.” He's risen to that challenge by taking advantage of often-overlooked markets throughout the United States. While importers in Europe often prefer dealing with supermarkets to selling on the open market, Nahoumovic embraces wholesalers and largely eschews retail deals. That strategy has to do with both the kinds of consumers his items draw and the flexibility that comes with the open market.

“American supermarkets are not really open to exotics or speciality items,” said Nahoumovic. “There are about 100 wholesalers that will take products that go to Chinese, Vietnamese or Korean markets within the United States.” In New York alone, there are three areas with large concentrations of Asian immigrants who have thriving commercial districts. While the turnover on a box of exotic fruit may be a week in a supermarket – if the market carries the exotic at all – a shop at an Asian market in New York may go through several boxes of that same item in a weekend. The same goes for any number of commercial districts throughout the country that cater to immigrants who prefer items that likely aren't found in mainstream supermarkets.

Part of Nahoumovic's strategy also involves geographic diversification. While many traders stick to major cities or large ports, Produce Sensation is willing to distribute to many smaller markets. The rewards, in addition to more business, include the ability to take advantage of price differences based on location.

“I try to make sure that any one item doesn't represent more than 20 percent of my business, and I also like to have options in many cities,” said Nahoumovic. “Not many people go to smaller locations, so there are price differences there.”

For more information:
Eyal Nahoumovich
Produce Sensation
Tel: + 1 914 420 9195
Email: eyyaal@gmail.com