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PHILADELPHIA -- A year from now, the Philadelphia produce industry should be settled into the world's largest and most-modern produce market. The new Philadelphia facility will enclose 687,000 square feet, all temperature- controlled, on a 50-acre site that is a few miles from the current market.

Jimmy Storey, president of the board of directors of the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market, told The Produce News Jan. 20 that the new market's construction remains on schedule and that merchants should be ready to move into the market in September.

But in the meantime, the last winter on the current market is characterized by slow payment. "I have people paying in 90 days. These are people I've done business with since I was a kid," said the 65-year-old Mr. Storey.

The first two weeks of January saw a strong start for Mr. Storey's firm, Quaker City Produce Corp., but business had fallen off by a third in mid-January. Mr. Storey suggested that by that time, consumers were faced with paying the credit card bills for Christmas shopping.

He added that many produce items have been high priced this winter and that the industry has been cautious about buying into what might become volatile markets.

Mr. Storey was looking forward to the seasonal lift that comes with the Valentine's Day holiday.