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Market efficiency and safety by design in Philly

“We love this market,” says Filindo Colace, vice president of operations at Ryeco, LLC, of the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM). “In terms of food safety and the protected cold chain, this facility truly has changed the produce industry for the better.”

Ryeco, founded in the mid-1980s and once mainly selling potatoes and onions, now offers a full line of produce. Colace credits the design and efficiency of the PWPM in helping the company achieve its business goals, including a new program to import produce.

“We felt the best way to help our customers grow their businesses was to import directly rather than going through a third party,” Colace says. “This way, we can ensure excellent quality and offer aggressive pricing.”

Ryeco’s expansion didn’t stop there: the company went from three to twelve trucks to better serve customers and expand its base geographically. “We deliver from Maine to Florida,” says Colace. “It’s important for us to get ahead of logistics and be proactive.”

In addition, Ryeco is in the process of developing a new website and printed materials.

Tom Curtis of Tom Curtis Brokerage, Inc., considers the PWPM a blessing. “Our customers are happy because they see the quality coming through on their end,” he says, crediting the Market’s modern refrigeration system.

In business for 38 years, Curtis examines, buys, and assembles produce for his clients, which they can either pick up from a refrigerated common area or he’ll arrange to have it delivered.

Emily Kohlhas, director of marketing for John Vena, Inc., also believes the market’s modernization set the stage for success and revitalization.

“This market has opened the door for us in so many ways. We can offer our customers industry-best ripening and repacking services that just weren’t possible at the old market,” she says.

“It’s amazing what we can do in this space: we have six climate zones to ensure all of our hundreds of products are stored in exactly the right environment—and a more or less endless selection of 24-hour loading docks. It’s a facility built with the customer in mind.”

John Vena, Inc., which is SQF Level II food safety audited, has also just received California Certified Organic Farmers certification as an organics handler, a feat that would not be possible if it weren’t for the market’s modern environment.

“Every time you handle organic product in a space, you must first completely sanitize all surfaces with organic-approved disinfectants—and prove with regular swabbing that no traces of pesticides or other chemicals remain.”


Christine Hofmann is a freelance writer in the Philadelphia area.