Senior Produce Buyer: Hand-Selecting the Freshest Fruits and Vegetables

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For those of you who don’t know who I am, I’d like to take a few minutes to explain how I’ve come to be the Senior Produce Buyer for Nino Salvaggio’s. I have been around our stores since I was a little kid, chasing after my Dad, Mike Santoro, who has been with Nino Salvaggio’s since 1979 and is now one of the managing partners at our Saint Clair Shores location.

Long Experience: I started working at the age of 14–by working I mean that was when I was first able to collect a paycheck for my efforts. Prior to that, I was working for baseball card money and maybe a few extra bucks to go see a movie.

Although I’ve worked in all departments of our stores, produce has always been my passion. From early morning setups to late-night merchandising changes, produce is in my blood. It’s hard to believe at times, but I have been around the produce business for over 20 years.

My experience has led me to become Senior Buyer, which means I’m the one responsible for all those fresh fruits and vegetables you see when you walk through our doors at Nino’s.

Hand-Selected Produce: The most common question I hear is, “How does Nino’s always have the freshest fruits and vegetables?” My team and I hand-select, taste, and negotiate our produce for the best prices. That’s what we do!

Each morning, I’m at the Detroit Produce Terminal at about 4:00 AM; I personally select all the produce as it is unloaded off the trucks. This ensures that we are bringing the freshest produce back to Nino’s. Another advantage to going to the terminal every day is that we are able to keep our inventories light, which also keeps our produce fresher.

The Almighty Knife: A produce buyer’s most important tools are his smart phone, his marker, and his knife. You may not realize it, but there isn’t a single piece of fruit in our stores that has not been tasted. Some days, for example, I might cut up to four or five different loads of cantaloupes to decide which is the sweetest for our stores. Now there are definitely peak and off-peak seasons for all fruits, so my job can be difficult at times. However, you can be sure that if it’s in our stores, it’s sweet enough to eat.

Stocking the Shelves: Once all the produce has been selected and the prices negotiated, our Nino’s semi-trucks are loaded up and begin their voyage back to our stores, where our staff is eager to unload them and begin stocking our shelves. This process repeats itself daily.

So the next time someone mentions Nino Salvaggio’s and its fresh produce, you can explain how it all happens!