Originally printed in the March 2022 issue of Produce Business.
I started working at A&J Produce Corporation last May, thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of the family business. My grandfather and his partners started A&J in 1977 at the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association located in the Bronx, NY. Forty-five years later, our mission remains the same: a commitment to providing our customers with the highest quality, freshest produce at the best pricing. Since joining the team, not only have I realized how much I have to learn about the wholesale produce industry, but also how the next generation like me can bring a fresh (no pun intended) outlook to the table.
Being a millennial, I think this is relevant with regard to a new perspective on marketing, especially through a social media lens. In this digital era, we are so lucky to have platforms, such as Instagram, that are available to the public and our customers. The advantages of social media are of the utmost importance to the success of our business.
Produce wholesalers do much more than just sell, and rely heavily on cultivating and maintaining relationships with growers and shippers (at A&J, many of those relationships started when my grandfather opened the business). Additionally, wholesalers often provide efficient and reliable logistics to ensure product is delivered on time and in the best condition, all while offering unparalleled 24/7 customer service. Like many wholesalers, A&J continues to serve the best interest of its growers, shippers and customers alike — and this is where social media can highlight and promote our deep-rooted values.
Social media is a driving force in today’s produce environment.
Until recently, A&J Produce had zero social media presence. Zero. I presented the idea of creating a company Instagram account, as it is arguably one of the most popular platforms for promoting business and furthering customer connections. Additionally, it allows for a universally accessible platform in which our customers are encouraged to provide open communication and feedback. Our Instagram account (@ajproducecorporation) publicizes the quality of the products we sell and the fundamentals of our business. The following are examples of the type of content that is shared and promoted on our page:
- Showcasing the growers and shippers with whom we have close relationships allows us to provide the best possible produce throughout every season of the year. Our daily displays enhance the visibility of this produce available from our many shippers. This highlights the strong relationships we maintain to keep a successful business and the variety of quality produce we receive from different locations.
- Displaying our own A&J Produce Corporation packaged and labeled produce, such as carrots and celery. This is extremely important, as this has our own logo on the packaging and shines a light on A&J not just as a business, but also as a brand.
- Promoting other brands, such as Cuties Citrus. I posted a picture of their mandarin oranges during the holiday season. Cuties then reposted that picture to their profile. All with a tag and a mention of Cuties Citrus, A&J was exposed to their almost 12K followers, reaching a much larger audience.
- Writing bios on our employees and posting a picture of them, many of whom have worked here for decades. This adds a human layer to our business and emphasizes our close-knit family mentality.
- Sharing photos of our team at the New York Produce Show and Conference, which was held in December 2021 at the Javits Center. This event allows us to connect with shippers, growers, and customers in person. The produce show photos showcased our strong relationships and our attendance, which is crucial in our involvement within the industry.
- Presenting our 45-year anniversary labels. Not only does this reinforce our mission statement mentioned above, but also represents our expertise in the business.
- Reposting mentions of our participation in giving back while helping the community of those in need. For example, New York City Mayor Eric Adams provided fresh fruits and vegetables to a community center (produce that was donated by A&J). Our packaged and labeled celery was shown in the video and we reposted it on our own page.
Social media is a driving force in today’s produce environment. Creating a digital footprint allows wholesalers to share and promote unique core values at a large scale, all while gaining crucial metrics such as accounts reached, accounts engaged, and content interactions. We are able to highlight our business in a way we were not able to before our social media involvement. As I continue to learn and grow within the company, I hope to provide a meaningful new perspective to help A&J Produce Corporation succeed in this ever-changing digital era.
Stephanie Tramutola is the first female in the family to be working at A&J Produce Corporation, located in the Bronx, NY. The company was started in 1977 by her grandfather, John Tramutola, and his partners. Today, A&J Produce is one of the largest wholesalers of fresh fruit and vegetables in the Hunts Point Terminal Market, servicing New York and the Northeast region.