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Taste Of Chicago

This year's market trends and hot commodities

Organics on the Rise?
Reflecting a nationwide trend, Chicago produce businesses continue to see climbing demand for organic fruits and vegetables. “We’ve seen an increase in organics across the country, and Chicago is no different,” Sugrue points out.

Demand has grown so quickly, Sugrue says, the industry has not been able to keep pace with supply. “This is the industry’s largest annual dollar gain, with nearly 5 percent of all the food sold in the United States today being organic—despite the continued struggle to meet consumer demand.”

Chicago International Produce Market

Where: 2404 S. Wolcott Avenue, Chicago, IL 60608
Contact: 847 585-0701 / /
Hours: Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 12:00 pm; closed Sundays, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
(although these are the officially listed market hours, most merchants open their doors as early as 3:30 am and offer reduced hours on Saturdays to workers).

Stats & Snippets:
• 22 independent produce merchants on the premises
• Facility sits on 33 acres in Chicago’s lower west side, near interstate 55 (also known as the Stevenson Expressway) and Midway Airport
• 450,000 square-foot warehouse facility
• Largest terminal market in the Midwest
• Though the current location is relatively new, the CIPM has been in operation for more than 100 years
• On-site value-added services (including ripening rooms, custom packing or repacking, and private label programs)
• On-site transportation services (including load consolidation and cross-docking)

Nearly 13 percent of all produce sold in the United States is now organic, according to the Organic Trade Assoc-iation. “Produce has always been and continues to be a gateway to organic,” explains Sugrue. “More than half of all U.S. households are now purchasing organic produce.” In response, Robinson Fresh is paying attention. “We’re proactively tracking trends through investments in an organics-focused category team and account managers,” he adds.

Some produce professionals refuse to buy into the organic hype. “The whole organic thing—I just don’t go for it,” quips Vince Gregosanc, Jr., in buying for Battaglia Distributing Company, Inc., which does not handle organics. “I’ve seen an increase in demand for organics, but it’s not huge,” he contends. Further, he believes there is even something of a backlash against organics in some consumer segments.

Hispanic Produce Boom
Seeing as Illinois is home to one of the largest Latino populations in the nation, it’s no surprise Chicago distributors and retailers move a great deal of Hispanic produce. The state’s Latino population ranked fifth in the nation (after New York, Florida, Texas, and California), with more than 2 million people, and 95 percent live within Chicago and its surrounding suburbs according to a Pew Research study