Steve Koster, sales manager at E. Armata Inc.—one of over 150 sellers on the Hunts Point market—doesn’t see these shifts as a threat. “E. Armata is a fourth-generation family business that has always looked to the future,” he observes. “We’re constantly changing and adapting to market shifts while maintaining old world, traditional family values and long-term relationships.”
Another important trend, borne partially of the increased purchasing power that has come with grocery consolidation, is a decrease in the number of retailers who are willing to use a third-party distributor.
A Profile in Produce: The Hunts Point Produce Terminal Market
The Bronx, just north of the Fulton Street Fish Market
Toll Plaza Entrance: 772 Edgewater Road; Bronx, NY 10474
Physical Address: 355 Food Center Drive; Bronx, NY 10474
Mailing Address: 101 Food Center Drive, Room #2A; Bronx, NY 10474
Telephone: (718) 589-4095
Email & Website: email@example.com
10:00 pm to 3:00 pm, Monday through Friday
9:00 am to 3:00 pm Sunday
Area: 113 acres total 60 acres of refrigerated space
Executive Director: Myra Gordon
“When we first came on the market, it was the norm for everyone to go through a distributor,” explains Charlie DiMaggio, a managing member of Fres Co LLC, “Now, fewer and fewer people are willing to do this.” But DiMaggio takes it in stride as another in a long line of business hurdles. “It’s just a simple function of the economy, with less money to go around generally,” though he does acknowledge the market’s contraction over the last several years. “It’s a whole new world for both retailers and suppliers to deal with, because there’s just not enough for everyone to get a slice of the pie.”
Paul Kazan, president and chief executive officer of Target Interstate Systems, Inc., agrees when asked about consolidation, and expects it to continue into the coming years. He believes there will be no end to the gradual absorption of merchants into fewer and fewer firms.
Changing demographics are also a factor, according to Koster: “Millennials are a dynamic force behind the current healthier eating trend, which is driving a desire for more healthful options at every level of retail,” he says. “This coincides closely with our philosophy of the importance of food safety through unbroken cold chain compliance and quick turnaround, with minimal handling of fresh produce.”
Farmers’ Markets and Small Vendors Competition
Farmers’ markets have also ballooned throughout the Empire State, which has the second-most in the nation, behind only California. In the last 15 years, the number has grown from 235 to over 700, many of which are located in the New York metropolitan area.