Recent developments at Hudson River Fruit Distributors have generated much excitement for the Milton, NY-based company.
Alisha Albinder-Camac, vice president and a fourth-generation member of the family-owned business, said her brother, Marcus, has recently joined HRFD and has been spending time in each department to get a thorough understanding of the operation.
Albinder-Camac said her brother returned to the area in October from Los Angeles, where he had been working for Vice Media as a senior media strategist. She said he has already been putting his talents to good use by running the company’s social media platforms and rebuilding HRFD’s website.
“The timing of his return was actually perfect,” said Albinder-Camac. “He started full-time in January, which was when I was just starting my maternity leave, and I was able to hand off some of my duties to him.”
Another recent development at HRFD is the construction of a new 20,000-square-foot cold storage facility, which was needed to handle the additional volume the grower-shipper has added.
“We have added around 75 acres over the last five years, and we were in need of more cold storage to handle the increased volume,” she said. “This new facility is top-of-the-line and it is ammonia-free, so it’s very eco-friendly. With this, we’ll be able to handle an additional 100,000 boxes of fruit.”
Albinder-Camac said that while it is still early, she expects their crop will be excellent this year. “We had a great bloom and the crop set looks great at this point. The apples are actually starting to get big, and we are in the process of doing some thinning. It should be a great crop, we just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope for no storms.” HRFD markets more than 20 varieties, but Albinder-Camac said a couple in particular are generating some buzz.
“I’m really excited about the SnapDragon, which is a true New York apple that was developed by Cornell University,” she said. “We doubled our sales on that variety this year, and it is especially satisfying and a source of pride to see a New York grown and propagated apple doing so well.” She also said the Evercrisp is starting to catch on. “It’s not the prettiest apple, but it is an outstanding eating apple, and once people try it they come to love it.” Like other growers, Hudson River has been challenged by soaring costs.
“Basically, everything across the board is more expensive, from fertilizer and fuel to boxes and packaging,” she said. “But we cannot do without those things, so we have been trying to run as lean as possible. We are assessing everything from an operational standpoint to be as efficient as possible.” She said that a lower freight rate is one of the big advantages she can offer buyers, and “we like to remind them that we are fewer miles to market.”
Hudson River Fruit is celebrating its 59th year in business in 2022, and Albinder-Camac said the company is thankful for the loyalty and support is has received from its customers throughout the years. In return, it looks to deliver the highest quality and best service it possibly can, even in the face of a challenging year.
“My grandfather used to say that in business you get dealt a hand of cards and you have to figure out how to play it to the best of your ability, and that is what we try to do each year,” said Albinder-Camac.