Boston, sometimes called “The Olde Towne” is a modern marvel of skyscrapers and high-tech everything, including its two terminal markets—the New England Produce Center (NEPC) and the Boston Market Terminal (BMT). In this spotlight article, industry members on the markets talk trends to watch and roadblocks to overcome as they continue to play a central role in the city’s prominence.
From the famous Faneuil Hall marketplace to the NEPC in Chelsea and BMT in Everett, Bostonians enjoy access to a full range of fruits and vegetables, and the two markets work together to assure area businesses—retailers, restaurants, hospitals, and schools—have the fresh produce they need. The twin markets’ reach also extends far beyond the suburbs of Beantown and includes more than 8 million people located throughout Massachusetts, along the East Coast, into Canada and beyond.
Steven Piazza, president of Community-Suffolk, Inc., a longtime receiver and importer on the BMT, doesn’t really consider his fellow merchants on the NEPC as rivals. “There’s competition everywhere, and it’s dog-eat-dog, but at the end of the day—we’re still friendly. We’re all in this together to keep the terminal markets alive.”
There are many advantages to working in and around Boston, but most produce suppliers agree one benefit trumps the rest: location, location, location. “The centrality of Boston is what I think has enabled the terminal markets to thrive,” comments Piazza, adding that Boston businesses can service all of the northern states and Canadian provinces. “We have the vacation states just north of us, where tourists visit the lakes in the summer and the ski areas in the winter,” he remarks. “That’s another reason Boston is an important hub; for grower-shippers to have representation in Boston to reach these Northeastern markets.”
Glenn Messinger, general manager and buyer for Baldor Boston, LLC in Chelsea, agrees the location can’t be beat. “There’s been a lot of growth in the foodservice business, particularly in Chelsea,” he says. “It’s a great location because we’re close to the produce center, all the major highways, the city, the airport. Plus, there’s a good workforce here.”
Boston businesses also benefit from well-established connections. “We’ve created relationships that are now close to 80 years in the making,” Piazza shares. “It’s a big comfort when everyone wants everyone to sell as much they can.”
Both markets are also continually making improvements and additions to better serve their customers. “We’re constantly renovating,” confirms Peter John Condakes, president of Peter Condakes Company, Inc., on the NEPC. “We’re looking at replacing all the water supply here since the water pipes have probably reached their lifespan. Once that’s done, they’ll do a complete redo of the pavement.”
Piazza points out that the BMT is a “safer, gentler, and kinder” facility than terminal markets in many other cities. “It’s well kept, well lit, and clean, and that makes customers comfortable.”