INSIDER DISPATCH FROM 'HUNT'S POINT PRODUCE TERMINAL' AMIDST COVID-19. The Bronx's 'Hunt's Point' wholesale produce market "buying, selling, storing and distributing fresh fruits and vegetables to stores and restaurants still allowed to offer takeout and delivery" is the largest wholesale produce terminal in the world. Hunt's Point employs 10,000 workers and serves 7% of of the US population within the 50 mile radius of NYC.
The stories swireling around Hunt's Point are legendary. Decades ago one Maine truck driver regularly hauling Maine potatoes broached the Wild West reputation by relating that on the approach to Hunt's Point, experienced truckers knew to slow down but NEVER stop at traffic lights out of dread they would be bushwhacked and their load hijacked.
Produce Industry rag 'The Packer' offers this glimpse into Hunt's Point during the Covid-19 crisis. Caleb, Megan & Jim
"Between a third and 40% of Bronx, N.Y.-based Hunts Point Produce Market’s business is from foodservice customers, and most of the rest is from retailers…
"Since stay-at-home mandates have closed schools, venues, events and many restaurants, overall market business has dropped to about 60% of the business they had at the same time last year, said Fierman, also president of Fierman Produce, one of 31 companies on the market.
"'We lost a big part of New York — that tourist trade, theater, the part that makes New York, New York,' Fierman said. 'I think everybody’s buying patterns are more cautious. It’s hard to go long on it. We’re on a shorter leash because money is not as easy to come by right now.'
"The market's overall foodservice business, which had stopped, is now at 10% to 15%, compared to more than one-third of sales before the pandemic, D’Arrigo said. Retail business doubled during the panic-buying stage, but now it’s leveled to 20% to 30% higher than it was pre-pandemic, he said.
"In a city with booming sidewalk and subway traffic, consumers typically visit the grocery store three to five times a week, but now with social distancing and lengthy lines, they’re going once a week, so produce sales have dropped..
"Stores are ordering less produce, partly because 'there’s only so much room on a truck, and people are hoarding toilet paper and frozen pizza,' Katzman said…
"D’Arrigo said he thinks the tried and true methodology — 'old-school and reactionary' — of doing business in the market will remain the same in the coming months.
“'It’s traffic-based. It’s always going to be this release valve. This is kind of a last-resort market for oversupply. This pandemic isn’t going to change us that much,' D’Arrigo said."
Hunts Point Wholesale Produce Market adjusts to COVID-19 uncertainty
The world’s largest wholesale produce terminal market is not experiencing supply shortages of any kind, although statewide closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused demand to fluctuate wildly.