DAYTON INGENUITY: Local wholesaler turns to selling veggies & fruits directly to public

Premier ProduceOne offers curbside, no-contact pickup at its Dayton warehouse

One of Dayton’s longest-running, family-owned  wholesale vegetable and fruit companies has come up with what just might be an ingenious solution to two problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic and statewide stay-at-home order.

>> 2 local doughnut shops to reopen 4 days a week after 'incredible response'

The first problem: While local folks can (and did) stock up on non-perishable grocery items to avoid crowds and grocery-store shopping, fresh fruits and vegetables are generally very perishable. They’re  healthy and nutritious, but they don’t age well, even in a refrigerator, during an extended stay-at-home order.

>> Local Bravo, Brio restaurants 'likely to remain closed' even after pandemic, owner says

The second problem: Premier ProduceOne, a Dayton wholesale produce company that during normal times sells all kinds of fruits and vegetables to local restaurants and other food-service operations, lost a chunk of that business starting March 15 when Gov. Mike Dewine and state health officials ordered all restaurants and pubs to cease all dine-in operations in response to the pandemic.

>> FREE JIGSAW PUZZLES: Centerville restaurant offers cabin-fever relief with food orders

The solution: Premier ProduceOne, a family-owned company that started in Dayton in 1947, has launched a pop-up online retail presence in order to sell boxes of fresh vegetables and fruits directly to the public in a safe and contact-free manner during the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When food is hard to find in the grocery store, Premier ProduceOne is here to deliver you the flavor while social distancing,” a flier distributed with every box of fruits or vegetables reads.

>> Local bakery to deliver free cupcakes to those with ‘quarantine birthdays’ in March and April

“We’re deeply proud of our Dayton roots and have been here since the beginning, when my great-grandfather ran a wholesale business out of his grocery store in West Dayton,” Marc Pavlofsky, financial controller at Premier ProduceOne, said in an email interview with this news outlet.

>> The story behind the Dayton-made social-distancing video that went viral

“We serve accounts large and small across the state, bringing quality fresh product to independent restaurants, schools, hospitals, and other institutions throughout the Miami Valley. Now, we’re bringing the same level of support we provide for restaurateurs and commercial kitchens to the retail consumer, who prizes quality fruits and vegetables more highly than ever.”

>> Kids cooped up at home? Free books filled with puzzles and coloring pages make Dayton history fun

Here’s how it works:

Customers can choose a mixed-assortment, pre-packed box of vegetables or fruits. Each box sells for $24.99; Premier ProduceOne officials say each box contains about $35 worth of produce at grocery-store prices. Customers order and pay online, and can pick up their box or boxes anytime between noon and 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday or Friday, in a contact-free fashion, at the Premier ProduceOne warehouse at 904 Woodley Road off of Springfield Street east of downtown Dayton.

>> PHOTOS: 50 fabulous Art Ball gowns through the years

“Customers are asked for their pick-up date and time, credit card information, and license plate number, so we can truly be contact-less and safe during the pandemic,” said Marc Pavlofsky, financial controller at Premier ProduceOne. “Simply pull up, call our main line at 800-229-5517, and we’ll put the product directly in your trunk.”

And what’s in the boxes? The assortment changes constantly, based on what the produce wholesaler has in stock.

Credit: Mark Fisher

Credit: Mark Fisher

But here’s an example. Last Friday, April 10, here’s what one customer’s vegetable box contained: A two-pound bag of French-style thin green beans, a large head of green cabbage, a large stalk of celery, a one-pound bag of baby carrots, two large zucchini, two small heads of romaine lettuce, a bulb of fresh garlic, a red bell pepper, a green bell pepper, a yellow bell pepper, a medium white onion, a medium red onion, two large yams, and three large baking potatoes.

>> Yellow Springs restaurant reopens for cocktails, carryout

The fruit boxes contain some combination (based on availability) of apples, pears, avocados (unripe), grapes, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, lemons, limes and bananas, according to Premier ProduceOne.

The company is doing the same thing at its Columbus and Cleveland warehouses.

“Our hope is to continue to work with the community and develop a line of grocery products that meet everyone’s needs,” Pavlofsky said.

For more information or to place an order for curbside pickup, go to

About the Author