NEW YORK – It was early morning, and the docks of New York’s largest food market were boiling from the cold. Thanksgiving was approaching, and sacks of onions, potatoes, and carrots were flying off the shelves.
Amidst the hubbub, buyers and sellers struck deals on tomatoes, mangoes and lettuce. Trucks stood ready to haul away the bounty—a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables destined for supermarket grocery aisles, household refrigerators and, ultimately, millions of mouths in the Northeast during the gluttonous holidays.
“This time of the year is the busiest for us. We have Thanksgiving, we have Christmas and New Years. It’s all very big family holidays with big food,” said Stephanie Katzman, executive vice president of S. Katzman Produce, one of the nation’s largest and oldest produce dealers, which operates the Hunts Point Produce Market.
According to another Hunts Point E wholesaler, Armata Inc.
Thanksgiving is a particularly busy time of year because it is the quintessential American holiday and is widely celebrated in the United States.
“Our market as a whole is doing about three times as much business as usual on a day like today,” Katzman said during a tour Tuesday morning of her company’s cavernous quarter-mile (0.4 kilometer) warehouse. and contains room for products. about two football fields.
In one huge room, the smell of onions filled the cold air. The aroma of berries wafted through the second room—although strawberries, the biggest seller in Katzman, were in short supply due to the bad weather that wreaked havoc on the growing season.
“Our market is truly unique. It’s similar to the stock market, but a little more intense. Because our ‘inventory’ is perishable, we can’t store it too long hoping it will go up in price,” said Katzman.
Not only can this place be compared to the stock market, but it’s also a kind of Grand Central Station with delivery trucks in and out of the Bronx.
Overall, Hunts Point wholesalers distribute 2.5 billion pounds of produce annually, with about 30 million pounds moved on Tuesday alone. Products go to places like Whole Foods, high-end grocers and specialty markets, as well as smaller mom-and-pop outlets.
Michael Rubinski, a buyer at the gourmet food store Market Basket, makes the hour-long drive from Franklin Lakes, N.J., three times a week to check on the merchandise.
“I come for the basics — everything, like celery, lettuce, strawberries and potatoes — but quality is No. 1,” he said. “Checking the quality and loading everything on the truck.”
Charlie Mull, one of Katzman’s product sellers, said consumers don’t understand where their products come from.
“You were eating our stuff without even knowing you were eating our stuff,” Mull said. “When you go to a restaurant or a store, you probably don’t understand how it got there before you put it in the fridge or on your plate.”
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