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Mega-Produce In The Metroplex

Dallas and Ft. Worth join forces to compete in today’s ever-changing industry
MS_Mega Produce

The nation’s fastest growing metroplex—Dallas and Fort Worth—is a mega-opportunity for buyers and sellers of fresh produce, flowing through a network of wholesalers, retailers, and farmers’ markets to consumers. With Dallas ranking as the third largest city in Texas, this region continues to experience exponential growth, welcoming hundreds of thousands of new residents to the area.

According to a study by Texas A&M University, the annual average impact of Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) crop production on the economy is more than $1 billion annually. A big slice of this agri-business belongs to wholesalers in the metroplex, with nearly 88,000 workers claiming an annual payroll of over $6 billion.

No Terminal Market
For a rapidly growing metro area with millions of mouths to feed, surprisingly, Dallas does not have a central terminal market. In 2013, DF Market Holdings purchased the wholesale market from the city, and Dallas’ City Council voted to privatize much of the market’s land and property. Today, the former market is home to trendy shops, restaurants, and luxury condos. While the market offers a handful of fruit and vegetable stands, it no longer includes wholesalers.

These days, most Dallas produce dealers work out of specialized, custom-built facilities on the outskirts of the city. From these suburban facilities, produce businesses enjoy quick and easy access to highways and more affordable office and warehouse space. Perhaps this is why Dallas suppliers do not consider the lack of an official terminal market a disadvantage.

“The traditional wholesale terminal where buyers would walk and purchase hasn’t existed in Dallas for a long time,” says John Acton, general manager of Coosemans Dallas.

“With most retail and foodservice customers, so much is direct now,” continues Acton. “Everybody has contracts and everybody has procurement arms.” In his view, terminal markets across the United States are less prevalent than in years past.

A future trend?
“It’s just kind of the new world,” suggests Tony Stachurski, vice president of Hardie’s Fresh Foods, a family owned distributor that has been serving Dallas retailers and foodservice customers since 1943, and has locations in Houston and Austin as well. “There are still some thriving terminal markets,” he adds, “but for the most part, I think most terminals have taken a backseat to companies building state-of-the-art facilities.”

Stachurski points out that many of the terminals across the nation were built 30 to 50 years ago. As property values rise in many downtown areas, terminal owners often make the decision to sell the market for development. Most Dallas produce businesses still trade with each other on a wholesale basis, he says. “Just because there’s not a place to do it that’s called a terminal market, there’s still plenty of commerce happening between the companies in Dallas.”