Philadelphia economy called strong as market readies for move - The Packer

Philadelphia economy called strong as market readies for move

09/16/2010 06:48:20 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

PHILADELPHIA — The long-awaited move to better facilities remains the focus of discussion for wholesalers on the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market.

Doug Ohlemeier

Workers are completing construction of the new Philadelphia Regional Produce Market. Market wholesalers say they are eager to move out of their decrepit market and into a modern, state of the art all refrigerated operation that provides for better produce storage and handling.

When the move is completed, wholesalers will be receiving and selling product in a facility many say will serve as a model for other city produce terminal markets.

The new operation will have a new name as well: the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market.

Though the move was originally scheduled to start by summer and then moved to late October or early November, market officials in late August say they don’t expect the relocation of market operations to occur until early January.

As the buildings at the present facility at 3301 S. Calloway continue to crumble, distributors are preparing for the move, said Jimmy Storey, terminal market association president and president and owner of Quaker City Produce Co.

“It would be a good thing to get out of here, in this market that’s falling apart bad, so we can better serve our customers and give them a better facility,” he said. “This will take them out of the position of where they break the cold chain.”

Though looking forward to the move, distributors express concerns over its cost.

“We are very worried about the expense,” said John Waleski, president and owner of John Waleski Produce Co. Inc. “You’re not going to get a whole lot more for the product. Unless we get new business, there’s no way anyone can triple their expenses.”

Add Jack Collotti Jr., vice president of Collotti & Sons Produce Inc., to the list of those who are worried.

“This place is antiquated, so the new one will be better,” he said. “Our (only) concern is the higher cost.”

However, despite a sluggish economy, many distributors say they are not seeing disappointing sales.

“The produce business has been good,” said Todd Penza, salesman for Pinto Bros. Inc. “We haven’t seen a slowdown in our business at all. The restaurant people have been complaining their business has been bad, but we don’t hear too much of that on the retail side.”

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