LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — With dining rooms closed across the state, fresh produce is piling up in the warehouses and loading docks of Downtown LA produce wholesalers.
Cases of tomatoes, peppers and other fresh produce are sitting with no place to go, another ripple in the continuing wave of economic problems caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
“It’s messed up,” said Jose Mendez, the owner of Tony’s Fresh Produce. “I’ve never been in this situation.”
Typically, the company supplies restaurants and small grocery stores, filling about 20 orders a day. A truck leaving Wednesday was only the 7th order of the day.
Mendez is thankful to still be open, but the demand for his fresh produce has dropped, and he says the financial pain is building.
“Everybody’s complaining, but look half of the people here are closed,” he said, gesturing to his neighbors in the wholesale produce district. “The neighbor over there, does those restaurants and he’s completely shut down. For the last two weeks, he’s been closed.”
At the 7th Street Produce Market, box after box is packed and ready to go — but no one is buying them. Some vendors are reporting a 90 percent drop in sales.
Mendez says he hasn’t been forced to lay off workers — but he’s had to cut their hours.
“They’re taking one day off, one employee at a time, but yeah. It’s getting worse everyday,” he said.
While most of the wholesale vendors in the area cater to restaurants and other small businesses, members of the public can also shop for their fresh fruit and vegetables from 3 a.m. to noon on weekdays.