From Dock Street to Essington Avenue
The Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market traces its roots to colonial times, when growers, shippers, and merchants met on Dock Street to trade produce and other commodities. This historic market remained vibrant until 1959 when the city moved wholesale perishables to the newly constructed Food Distribution Center in South Philly.
The Philadelphia Regional Produce Market was part of this center and for the time, the facility was “state-of-the-art” with trailer-height loading docks.
By the early 2000s, with changing food safety regulations and new technology breakthroughs, the tenants at the terminal market were ready for an upgrade.
Today, the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM) sits on nearly 60 acres in Southwest Philly, and is considered the most modern facility of its kind in the United States. Near Interstates 95 and 76, the PWPM is centrally located for East Coast businesses with easy access to several major truck routes throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and New York.
Old & New: History Meets High-Tech
Although tenants at the PWPM signed 40-year leases, many of the well known merchants like M. Levin & Company, Pinto Brothers, and Procacci Brothers have been moving produce for generations.
Jack Collotti, president of Collotti & Sons, Inc., has also been around the terminal for decades. Both his grandfather and father worked on the market for years before buying out a vendor and establishing Collotti & Sons in 1975.
John Vena, another third generation vendor, says this market was designed with customers in mind. Wide aisles for two-way traffic and an electric load leveler at every door make it easy to shop and load.
Collotti agrees: “The new facility streamlined the process; it’s a lot easier for customers. Where they would be here six or eight hours before, now they can get out in one hour, even twenty minutes.” Customers who prebook or use call-ahead ordering have even faster turnaround times.
Best of all, perhaps, is that the PWPM is fully enclosed and refrigerated (the largest such market in the world), so the cold chain is never broken. And not only does the facility comply with all current food safety regulations, but it can easily adapt to new rules and restrictions.
Mixed Use: Public & Private
Many terminal markets are not open to the public and are strictly for wholesalers and their retail, institutional, and other customers. Philadelphia’s market, however, welcomes the public and has always been open to everyone. When we asked merchants if this practice ever affected their business in a negative way, most believed the ‘open door’ policy was positive, and of benefit to everyone.