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Hustle and Bustle in the Bronx

The Hunts Point Terminal Market and Beyond

Bringing a world of produce to North America via its longstanding Bronx location, the Hunts Point produce market tries to keep the service and traditions of the past while moving its infrastructure towards the future.

Hunts Point & Other Markets
Wholesale and Retail Shifts
Despite its venerable history, extensive service area, and loyal customer base, the Hunts Point Terminal Market (Hunts Point) isn’t the only game in town.

In the New York City area alone, it shares space with the Brooklyn Terminal Market, and throughout the state there’s also the Capital District Regional Market in Menands outside of Albany, the Niagara Frontier Food Terminal in Buffalo, the Central New York Regional Market in Syracuse, and two facilities in Rochester.

On the retail end, there’s been a great deal of diversification as well, both within New York City and surrounding the terminal market, as well as across the country. Competition continues to climb with national grocery chains and independent locals, disruptors and deep discounters, the rise of more farmers’ markets, the perseverance of neighborhood bodegas and boutique stores, and the sudden proliferation of organic and natural foods specialists, like Whole Foods’ groundbreaking new facility in Gowanus.

This is good news for some, like Peter Pelosi, a buyer and transportation manager for A&J Produce Corp. “I hope Whole Foods is able to make a bigger push into the New York market,” he observes. “They buy a lot of product, and we’ve seen a large impact, albeit indirectly, from them moving into the area.”

Not only does Whole Foods considerably up the volume for fresh produce, but Pelosi says, “it’s a good place to test out new package items like pluots, peaches, and nectarines. The biggest factor for the consumer is still price, and if the price is marketable and attractive, they’ll buy it.”

In addition to Whole Foods, there are over 5,000 grocery establishments in New York—an increase of 5 percent since 2000 (which may not sound significant but is) and over 8 percent in the Hunts Point home borough of the Bronx, where the C-Town Supermarkets and Krasdale Foods, Inc. chains are headquartered. These grocers employ nearly 47,000 workers, an increase of 11 percent, and mergers and acquisitions have risen substantially in the last decade (for more information on M&A in the retail sector, see the front feature article in this edition of Blueprints).

Reduced Space and A Tighter Customer Base
One of the critical issues in retail—known only too well by merchants at Hunts Point—is the lack of space. In New York proper this problem has been exacerbated by a number of older retailers closing locations that are set to become apartments as the Big Apple faces a housing crunch.

Less space for more money is good for the traditional New York bodega, but it hurts standard retailers; Fairway has recently closed and A&P declared bankruptcy, while established presences like Key, Pathmark, and Associated are losing ground to premium grocers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, who are trying their luck in a market traditionally dominated by the corner store.