Posts Tagged “Hunts Point”
After a week on strike, Hunts Point produce handlers are back on the job.
Teamsters Local 202 called the strike a victory after 97 percent voted to approve a new 3-year contract. The union had demanded a $1-per-hour increase in wages each year. The new contract guarantees 70 cents the first year, 50 cents the second year and 65 cents the third year, according to an article in the New York Times.
The previous contract included a 32-cent-per-hour increase, which Daniel Kane Jr., the Teamsters Local 202 president, said was not enough with workers at risk during a pandemic.
“I’m hoping that that will resonate with workers throughout this country because our members are essential, and decent, hardworking family people,” Kane said during a news conference.
The strike was a “tough week” but worth it, Stephen Katzman, owner and president of S. Katzman Produce and president of the Hunts Point Cooperative Board told the New York Times.
“We have kept the city fed throughout the Great Depression, two World Wars, two recessions and now a global pandemic, without ever breaking our crucial role in the food supply chain,” he told the NYT. “New Yorkers can rest assured that they will continue to have access to a consistent supply of fresh fruits and vegetables…[even though] it cost us money and it was a tough week.”
The strike drew attention in the media with lawmakers including U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joining picket lines. A handful of protesters were arrested, but the events remained peaceful.
By Produce Business
Stretched out onto 113 acres, the Hunts Point Cooperative Market is the largest food terminal market of its kind in the world – that doesn’t sell flowers. It is estimated the Hunts Point Market employs more than 10,000 people directly and indirectly, supplying 23,000 restaurateurs and providing 60 percent of the produce that feeds the area’s 23 million people.
Hunts Point opened in 1967 with more than 130 produce companies. Ten of those original wholesalers who were on The Washington Street Market moved to The Hunts Point Market: Nathel & Nathel (then Wishnatzki & Nathel), S. Katzman Produce, E. Armata, D’Arrigo, Joseph Fierman & Son, Rubin Bros., Kleinman & Hochberg (now LBD), Robt. T. Cochran, A.J. Trucco and M&R Tomato. These firms have expanded and grown in the past 52 years. Today, after tremendous consolidation, there are 32 firms in total.
How do you feed 20.3 million people? It sounds like a mind-boggling feat, but it’s what the farmers, suppliers, produce wholesalers, distributors, retailers and shippers that work in the New York Metro area do every day. According to the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) of the U.S. Census Bureau, 20,320,876 people live in the area defined as the New York, Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA metropolitan statistical area (MSA). In New York City alone, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the number of people at 8,398,748 as of July 2018.
When Nathel & Nathel opened at Hunts Point, the company was called Wishnatzki & Nathel. The name change came in 1997, when brothers Ira and Sheldon, the company’s third generation, took over. It was their grandfather who started his business with a pushcart in 1922 in Brooklyn. Today, with tremendous consolidation, Nathel & Nathel is among the largest companies at Hunts Point with an average of 100 trucks delivering produce every day.
“Nothing compares to Hunts Point,” says Steve Kaplan, whose company, Florida Produce Brokers, Inc. in Stuart, FL, provides mostly corn and leafy greens to the New York area. “It is in class by itself. Nothing is larger and nothing compares to the scope of what goes on there all the time. It’s the largest wholesale market in the world.”
In the produce trade, transportation issues can arrive at a moment’s notice and attention must be given immediately.
“In our business there are so many factors affecting transportation and it has such a big effect on us,” says Stefanie Katzman, executive manager, S. Katzman Produce. “We try to mitigate it as much as we can by sourcing from multiple locations and trying to maintain an on-hand inventory, but there is only so much that can be done. Logistics is one of the most challenging parts of our industry because so much is out of our control, and everything that affects timing just trickles right down the line. There can be product delays at loading, hold-ups at previous stops, traffic, equipment issues, and about a hundred other things that affect the transporting of products from farm to table.”
Why would a wholesaler choose to hire a truck – which means dealing with the driving limits of the electronic logging device (ELD) – instead of a train? The ELD records the number of hours the driver has been driving, ensuring that the driver gets enough rest and is safer on the roads. Still, pulling off for a few hours to rest means unproductive time for perishable items.
“There is actually a lot of traffic on the railways,” says Evan Kazan, director of business development for Target Interstate. Located at Hunts Point Market, Target specializes in transporting produce. Since there are a lot of railcars on each train it takes longer to get them loaded and unloaded.
Instead of a one-day transfer, it can become two to three days. A trip that used to take six to seven days, now it is taking as long as nine days. At that point, especially when you’re dealing with produce, you’re better off going with trucks, says Kazan.
Since last year, capacity and freight rates have gone down. That means, produce wholesalers don’t have the same issues as in 2018. “Now the price difference is not as big of a difference. You are not looking at thousands of dollars, you’re looking at hundreds. For $500, I may decide it is worth it to get me my load to its destination three days earlier even if I am paying a little more. When the freight rates made the difference in price $2,000, wholesalers were faced with a potentially expensive dilemma.
The Hunts Point Wholesale Terminal in New York City’s South Bronx is the largest produce market in the world, where merchants run 32 companies spread over 113 acres, handling 1 to 3 million boxes of fresh produce at a time.
The gate fee for big rigs is $30.
The complex has gross sales of nearly $2.5 billion a year, supplying over 20 million people within a 50-mile radius of New York City, accounting for about 9 percent of the total U.S. population.
Hunts Point opened in 1967, and has its own public works, security team, with offices on the second floor with fruits and vegetables, union laborers, along with salesmen and buyers on the ground floor.
The handling of fresh fruits and vegetables involves product from 49 states and 55 countries.
Many of the merchants are descendants of the original owners who sold vegetables on push-carts and then at the lower Manhattan Washington Market of 1821 and its northern offshoot, Bronx Terminal Market, which eventually gave way to Hunts Point.
The market gates for big rigs open at 9 p.m. Sundays, and trucks are lined up to enter the market to unload at the docks. About 6,000 people conduct business daily at the market.
Trucks are delivering more of a diversification of product and at any one time there may be 50 different brands of broccoli, for example, on the market. The majority of buyers of produce from Hunts Point are retailers and restaurants.
D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of New York, Inc., one of the nation’s largest wholesale produce distributors, has implemented a number of renovations and rebrands, plus a whole new side of business designed to take its operations to the next level.
Last January, the company purchased the John Georgallas Banana Distributors of New York, a company located just outside the Hunts Point Terminal Market and across the street. Georgallas was a long time banana company. Since the acquisition, D’Arrigo has been making major renovations of the facility. There are currently 13 ripening rooms providing space on-site for both organic and conventional bananas. Besides the ripening rooms for the bananas, there are two more rooms for plantains.
The changes are now allowing D’Arrigo to accelerate the growth its tropical department which was launched several years ago. With the acquired facility outside of the Hunts Point market, D’Arrigo now has more flexibility when handling product. At the Hunts Point Terminal Market’s cooperative, vendors can only sell fresh fruits and vegetables, while with D’Arrigo’s new operation just outside of the Hunts Point market, it can sell other products such as teas, juices or packets. D’Arrigo can now have the outside facility open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. This move has changed D’Arrigo’s business model, allowing it to compete with other markets that have those capabilities.
D’Arrigo also has constructed new stalls in its wholesale facility, which was accomplished in phases. This started with its fruit department and eventually included the company’s vegetable and other departments. It resulted in the first major facelift in many years.
These renovations will result in the company having an additional 25,000 to 30,000 square feet of space.
The final stage of the construction will be coming this fall with the addition of new sales booths. This construction will allow the company to become more efficient.
Once again tenants at the Hunts Point Wholesale Produce Terminal are talking with the New York City about construction of entirely new warehouses to accommodate the market’s growing space needs.
A previous $400 million plan has been eliminated that would have added capacity on the city-owned site — while keeping about 1 million square feet of existing warehouses. More recent negotiations with the NYC’s Economic Development Corp. focus on new buildings being constructed in stages. Each of members of the 38-member cooperative would have the old warehouses torn down.
Strict standards for water and soil testing are now in place from new FDA safety regulations. The regulations require labels identifying the originating farm on every food box.
The 113-acre market, which sits on a peninsula between the South Bronx and East rivers, is the world’s largest supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables. It serves the region’s wholesale and retail businesses, including supermarkets, produce stands and mom-and-pop stores.
The co-op merchants have long complained about the site’s shortcomings — cramped quarters and vehicle congestion. At one point Hunts Point wholesalers threatened to pull up stakes and move to New Jersey.
Food both arriving and departing the market is handled by air, rail and truck. T here are 13 miles of interior rail track along with 120,000 tractor-trailers and a million buyers with small vans and trucks all types vying for space.
Because there is not enough cold storage in the warehouses, hundreds of parked refrigerated trailers operate on the market’s fenced-in site. These trailers run primarily on diesel fuel contributing to pollution.
Another problem is Hunts Point lacks the electrical capacity to support the infrastructure.
The city is reported to be working with the market to fund $10.5 million worth of capital improvement projects over a seven-year period, including lighting and electrical upgrades.
Additionally, $8.5 million in city capital has been committed for rail upgrades. The city also will be working with the market on the long-term redevelopment plan.
Even so, a new facility will almost certainly cost more to develop than the plan fleshed out just a few years ago, when the co-op owners balked at sharing half the cost.
Hunts Point is in the last five years of the seven-year lease option with NYC.
Merchants in the Hunts Point Terminal Market continue talking about new and modern facilities, but in reality they are going nowhere. Realistically, construction of such a facility will never happen.
For example, look at the 20014 agreement signed by market officials and the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which renewed the wholesale market’s lease for seven years.
There also have been major improvements by large produce wholesalers such as Nathel & Nathel Inc., S. Katzman Produce Inc., and E. Armata Inc., which operates from 24.5 market units and has made large investments into its facilities.
These wholesale distributors are not wasting their monies. When you see companies spending this kind of money, you know Hunts Point isn’t going anywhere.
The historic Hunts Point neighborhood location in the South Bronx, provides an ideal location for the facility because it is close to New York City’s area metropolitan boroughs.
There has been talk about a new market in New York for more than a decade.
How would you get all of these merchants into the new market over time or at the same time? I don’t foresee any change.”
“There’s been a lot of talk about this market moving or rebuilding,” said Sheldon Nathel, vice president of Nathel & Nathel recently. “This has been going on for 13-14 years. A lot of the people on the market seem to be putting a lot more money into their stores lately. We followed suit. Who knows where this market will be in five years?”
Federal government monies are being actively pursed by Hunts Point leaders to upgrade the world’s largest fresh produce terminal. There are 22 million people in the Tri-State area that Hunts Point serves.
The facilities at Hunts Point are antiquated and everything from old plumbing to grid lock is constantly causing problems. There often are electrical lines reported exploding and transformers breaking for lack of capacity.
By Empire State Development
Empire State Development (ESD) announced that Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association will conduct a feasibility study to determine the best way to upgrade the facilities at the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market, in the Bronx, to remain competitive in the region and comply with federal food-safety standards.
“The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market has been putting food on our tables and creating jobs in the New York City region for decades,” said ESD President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “With upgraded facilities, it will continue to provide a marketplace for local farmers for years to come. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State is working to upgrade vital infrastructure from Buffalo to Long Island.”
“For the past 50 years, the Hunts Point Produce Market has been a vital engine of commerce in the South Bronx – generating nearly $500 million in annual impact,” said Hunts Point Produce Market Cooperative Association Co-Presidents Joel Fierman and Joseph Palumbo. “Thanks to ESD, we will have a realistic look at how best to ensure we remain competitive, retain and expand our employment footprint, and evolve to meet the needs of New Yorkers for the next fifty years. It is our intention to keep the Market here in the Bronx. Much like the Yankees, this is our home – and with the State’s help we can remain here.”
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said, “My office welcomes this much needed study made possible by Empire State Development. The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market is one of our largest employers and an economic development engine that drives the entire region. It is important that we take a strong look at the market and plan for a stronger, safer and more fruitful future for the businesses and the thousands of workers employed within. I commend Governor Cuomo and ESD for committing considerable funding to take a serious look at the infrastructure and redevelopment needs of perhaps the largest food market in the world.”
The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Market will conduct the necessary engineering studies to determine the feasibility and cost estimates of renovating its existing buildings vs constructing new buildings and infrastructure at its Bronx location. The work will be necessary to keep the market competitive with others in Philadelphia and Boston and will ensure that the Market complies with current and future federal food regulations.
The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market employs 10,000 people and generates $2.4 billion in sales annually. The market operates as a cooperative, with an elected board of directors. It receives 210 million packages of fruits and vegetables each year, from 55 countries and 49 states, catering to the most ethnically diverse region in the world, with an estimated population of 23 million people.
To encourage the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association to proceed with this feasibility study ESD is providing it with a $250,000 Regional Economic Development Council grant. The study is expected to be completed by September 2016.
About the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market:
Located in Hunts Point region of Bronx, NY, the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market is the largest wholesale produce market in the world, sitting on 113 acres of property comprising of 1 million square feet of interior space. We offer an amazingly diverse selection of fruits and vegetables from around the globe. Our produce is delivered fresh daily via plane, boat, train and tractor trailer from 49 states and 55 countries. Through the years, we at Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market maintain the traditions of our predecessors. We uphold traditions of excellence, quality, hard work and family. Some of the Market’s business proprietors are second and third generation businesspeople whose roots trace back to Washington Market. The market operates as a cooperative with an elected board of directors.
About Empire State Development
Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I Love NY,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.nyworks.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.
Baldor Specialty Foods has closed on a lease amendment that will expand its facility in the Hunts Point neighborhood in the Bronx, NY, by 100,000 square feet. The lease, signed with the New York City Economic Development Corp., will allow the fresh produce and specialty food distributor to strengthen the area’s robust food and beverage distribution network.
The Hunts Point Food Distribution Center is one of the largest in the world and includes the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market, the Hunts Point Cooperative Meat Market, the New Fulton Fish Market, and parcels leased to companies, including Baldor and Krasdale Foods.
The nearly $20 million expansion, funded entirely by Baldor, will create 350 new quality jobs in addition to 400 jobs the company has created since moving to the Food Distribution Center in 2007. The expansion will allow Baldor to grow its fresh cuts manufacturing operation and increase its distribution to customers across the city and metropolitan region, including restaurants, hotels, retail food stores, corporate kitchens, nursing homes, hospitals and schools. The project will also serve to promote regional food distribution, adding capacity to Baldor’s current operation that already serves over 50 local farms and partners by distributing 40,000 cases of local product into the regional food system each week during peak season.
“This expansion solidifies our Bronx location as the headquarters of Baldor Specialty Foods,” TJ Murphy, owner and chief executive officer of Baldor Specialty Foods, said in a press release. “We are proud to make this investment in the Bronx, to strengthen our commitment to Hunts Point, and to continue to be a strong supporter of the area’s overall economic development.”
Currently, Baldor occupies a 193,000-square-foot warehouse distribution facility with over 1,000 employees located on 13 acres in the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center, which it leases from the city. The lease amendment will allow Baldor to expand its facility and relocate its parking spaces to the adjacent Halleck Industrial Development site. Baldor was selected through a public Request for Proposals issued in 2013. The project is consistent with the goals of the Hunts Point Vision Plan to catalyze food-related industrial uses and create local jobs.
Together, approximately half of the food in New York City stores and restaurants passes through the NYCEDC-managed Hunts Point Food Distribution Center. The cluster of wholesale markets sits on 329 acres and support 115 private wholesalers that employ more than 8,000 people. In March 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the City will invest $150 million over 12 years to enhance the capacity of the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center, strengthen existing businesses, and attract new entrepreneurs, generating nearly 900 construction jobs and approximately 500 permanent jobs.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in early March announced his administration plans to invest $150 million over 12 years to revitalize aging operations. However some Hunts Point wholesalers say the mayor wasn’t specifically talking about the Hunts Point Produce Terminal.
Instead, the mayor’s announcement was neighborhood-specific and was referring to all the food markets on the Hunts Point peninsula, which include the Fulton Fish Market and the Hunts Point Cooperative Market, which is also known as the Hunts Point Meat Market. When one does the math, $150 million over 12 years doesn’t amount to much and isn’t considered remarkable.
The $150 million isn’t anywhere near the $800 million needed to modernize operations, although the city is spending money to improve the market. It is pointed out that a $21 million project constructing railroad sidings alongside the market’s buildings and constructing an open-air rail shed on the market’s east side for freight car unloading is underway.
At the 329-acre facility, 115 wholesalers that employ more than 8,000 workers distribute from the market’s four buildings that were constructed in the late 1960s. Talks to move distributors out of the aging 500,000-square-foot market began in 2000.
Washington produce rates on apples, cherries – grossing about $7400 to New York City.
The New York-based wholesaler has added refrigeration capacity, reconfigured its fruit and vegetable divisions and improved its docks for truck loading and unloading. Following the closure of Krisp-Pak Sales Corp. in 2012, Nathel & Nathel took over its units and was working on closing on the purchase of units from the defunct Korean Farm, which went out of business in 2014.
Nathel & Nathel now distributes produce from to 23 units.
The distributor also upgraded the warehouse to Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point standards.
Better refrigeration control in different zones will result from the improvements, according to company vice president Sheldon Nathel said. It also should result in better temperature control for fruits and vegetables as well as better organize the operation, making it more efficient.
Nathel & Nathel sells a full line of fruits and vegetables, including tropicals and specialties, to customers throughout the Tri-State region.
The Hunts Point Terminal Market occupies 329 acres and supports 115 private wholesalers that employ over 8,000 people.
Hunts Point wholesalers are paying a freight rate of about $5000 from the Lower Rio Grand Valley of Texas for fruits and vegetables, and about $4800 for Idaho potatoes.