It is always interesting to find out how many people in the produce industry have been dealing with buyers across the country for decades, sometimes for generations, yet they have never set foot in their customers’ facility.
That is a shame and when those longstanding relationships are with the firms on the Hunts Point Market, it means that one has never seen the produce industry in its pure state.
Product quality open for all to see, buyers, sellers, all negotiating to move the product as the invisible hand of the market guides produce to its optimal use, sending countless messages to growers around the globe as to what they should plant next year and for years to come.
We’ve made an annual pilgrimage to this temple of produce commerce a part of The New York Produce Show and Conference since its inception, and we’ve chronicled those tours in pieces such as these:
This year, the Hunts Point Market will be buzzing as the Christmas season shifts to high gear just as The New York Produce Show and Conference gets underway. We asked Pundit Contributing Editor Keith Loria to let us know what we have in store on this year’s tour:
Fierman Produce Exchange, Inc.
Hunts Point Produce Market
Bronx, New York
Q: It’s always a nice treat for attendees at The New York Produce Show and Conference to get the chance to tour the Hunts Point Market the next day. What’s on tap for this year’s tour?
A: It’s just a great opportunity for those who may have heard about Hunts Point, but have never gotten the chance to experience it. From the time they enter the gate and see the size of the facility and the amount of traffic — that in itself is pretty startling to most people when they walk in — it’s just a great visit.
Q: Why do you think the tour is something that everyone in the industry should experience?
A: We have 40 merchants operating in close proximity and an estimated 3,000 to 6,000 people come in and out each night. To walk this market and see the displays that the merchants put out and the sheer variety of produce from all over the world, it’s the chance to get a flavor of what’s really going on.
Q: The last part of the tour is a Q&A with some of the people at the market. Why do you think this is an important part of the overall experience?
A: It’s a rare chance to talk to the merchants and get first-hand input live, in front of you. It’s most rewarding when you can hear those impressions from the merchants. I think people walk out of here with a totaly different feeling than when they walk in.
Q: What is the most common question you get asked from those taking the tour?
A: “How do you do it?” As vast as this market is and as big as it is, and with so many customers coming through, people are just amazed.
Q: We spoke about the big marketing push last year… what have you done to get the word out in 2014 and what have been the results of your campaign? How can you quantify that what you’re doing is working?
A: This is our home for at least the next 7-8 years. We are taking the marketing in a new direction this year, reaching out more to independent retailers and bringing them back to the market and re-introducing them.
People have gotten a different flavor of the market. Hunts Point has had a terrible rap, but it’s really a great place to operate and do business. It’s loaded with smart, savvy professional businessmen and women who make up the industry and understand it.
Q: I know there is a plan in place to make improvements at Hunts Point. What’s on the docket for 2015?
A: We started the railroad project last year on Row B, and the tracks behind my units are finished and came out fantastic. It’s a breath of fresh air to have tracks at the building level and trucks you can back in without stacking a bunch of skids. We’ll start on Row A in early spring. We’re also looking at revamping lighting and paving. We have some other projects on the horizon that will physically make it a better place to operate in and cosmetically make it look a little cleaner.
Q: What are you looking forward to most about The New York Produce Show?
A: We have a booth and we always enjoy it because we get to see our customers face to face. We operate in this 24-hour window 5-6 days a week, and we don’t always get that chance. The show gives us the platform to meet and see a lot of the customers we generally just talk to on the telephone.
Q: Those coming to the show will have a choice of what tour to go on — what’s your selling point to get them to choose Hunts Point?
A: If you want to see the most active and biggest market with the most variety, come to Hunts Point.
Joel is right about that. There is nothing quite like it in America, so we hope you will join us as we travel to America’s largest wholesale market.
If you are already registered and want to add the Hunts Point tour, let us know here.
If you would like to register for The New York Produce Show and Conference, you can do so here.
Remember The Global Trade Symposium begins on Tuesday, December 2 at the New York Hilton. Ask for information here.
And the “Ideation Fresh” Foodservice Forum takes place the day after the trade show – express your interest here.
If you need a hotel, let us know here.
And we have three booths still available, so let us know here if you want information.
Finally, there are always sponsorship opportunities that help position your firm as a leader, so send us your inquiry here.
Looking forward to seeing you in New York.