A highlight of The New York Produce Show and Conference is always a visit to the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market. The show has grown up with the new Philly market… the first year we actually did a sneak preview of the new facility before it was open.
Here are some of the pieces that highlighted previous tours:
We work hard to make the tour easy. For example, we send a shuttle to take people directly to the Philadelphia airport if they want to fly out from there rather than return to New York.
But it is the merchants of the market that make the tour both educational and fun. We asked Contributing Editor Keith Loria of Pundit sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS, to find out more:
Q: What’s the latest buzz at the market?
A: Overall, we’re at pretty good occupancy level, and going into the late fall and winter season I think most of us are seeing good opportunities. We’re looking forward to the holidays getting started and that’s what we’re talking about most around here.
Q: One of the treats for attendees at The New York Produce Show and Conference is that they get to choose from a number of great tours; what’s your best selling point as to why they should choose the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market?
A: The biggest reason is to visit the facility and see the merchants that are here. There is a lot of opportunity for buyers. The facility speaks for itself: more than 700,000 square feet, fully refrigerated, and what we’re able to do here is unlike what any other terminal market can do.
We have 24 merchants handling product from around the world, and I think there’s a lot of opportunity for any produce buyer and for shippers as well. The building is state-of-the-art.
Q: What can those taking the tour expect to see?
A: We’re just starting to plan the tour now; we are very excited to be hosting visitors from The New York Produce Show and Conference. We are working on showcasing our facility both here and at our booth on the trade show floor. We’ll welcome people into the market, give them an opportunity to walk around and meet all the merchants and see how everything runs in the most modern terminal market facility in the country.
Q: What will someone taking the tour for the first time or visiting the market for the first time learn?
A: The most important thing is our able to protect the cold chain for all the products coming in and the variety of product we have available here. Anyone who’s looking for an up-to-date facility, taking the best care of product that it can, and merchants aggressively looking to serve customers, I think those are the two biggest takeaways visitors will see.
Q: At the end of the tour, you always make yourself available for a Q&A. Why is that an important component of the experience?
A: For those visitors who are buyers for retailers or wholesaler operations, it’s good for us to spend a few minutes with them and answer their questions about the actual logistics: “How do I get my truck in and out of Philadelphia”; “If I’ve never been here to buy, what will my experience be like?”
It’s a lot easier here than any other terminal market you would go to on the East Coast. We’re able to get trucks loaded efficiently, without having to move trucks from one end of the market to the other. People typically ask what brands they can find here as well.
Q: How has your customer base changed over time? What are some market prospects?
A: We have seen more wholesalers from around the region sending trucks in on a more regular basis to fill gaps in their own inventory or to pick up specialty items they don’t necessarily carry.
The market has also participated in helping to facilitate cross docking to some of the Caribbean destinations, because some steamship lines changed their shipping point to Philadelphia. So we’re seeing a regular flow of product in and out of the market on its way to the Caribbean.
Q: Have you seen a noticeable expansion in the range of customers, the number of customers, or the amount of business with established customers?
A: We’re seeing a lot more small customers, particularly those coming from ethnic neighborhoods. We’re getting a better play from the mom-and-pop establishments. We absolutely have seen increased business from the wider industry from both new and long established accounts.
Q: What are you looking forward to about this year’s New York Produce Show and Conference?
A: Because the show is in New York, and the time of year it is, it’s a good jumping-off point for us both as a market and as a vendor in the market, to talk to the customers passing through about things we have, that we’ll be offering for the holidays and the winter season.
We’re talking about a major shift in production areas, so the timing of this show is good, because it allows us to preview for customers what we’ll be doing going into the first quarter of the year.
Q: What is the market’s role with imports?
A: We deal with product from all over the world. We handle a lot of imported product from Central and South America, so as the seasons change, it’s time to switch over sourcing — that’s one of the topics we want to talk to customers about at the show.
Q: What opportunities for growth do you believe still exist for the market?
A: I think we have a terrific foundation here with this market. The facility is top-notch and we have a good mix of vendors. The opportunity is what you want to make of it.
One of the things important to note is that people who tour the market now are going to see a lot of young faces. We have a lot of nieces, nephews, sons and daughters of the owners of our businesses joining the companies, and the young people have a lot of ambition and bring a lot of knowledge to the table. That helps attract the younger buyers. We can build whatever we want to build and reach out to whatever customers we need to.
We think John’s comment about the growing numbers of young people on the market — in Philly, and elsewhere — is a point to be aware of.
These are not your father’s markets anymore, and the young people are making them into a new kind of tool for the industry.
One would be smart to go visit Philly and see what a modern market can be.
You can register for the tour and for the whole New York Produce Show and Conference right here.
Headquarters hotel — one can do a lot of business in the gym, at the bar, in the lobby — book your room in our dedicated room block here.
And don’t forget to check out travel discounts right here.
See you in New York…and in Philadelphia!