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New York's produce business is promoted in a variety of ways

by Tad Thompson | March 28, 2010
BRONX, NY -- Boosting publicity for the Hunts Point Terminal Market, here, is among the responsibilities of Myra Gordon.

There are a number of noteworthy publicity projects underway, thanks to Ms. Gordon, who is the executive administrative director for the New York Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative.

In a meeting with The Produce News in her office March 11, Ms. Gordon noted that she is working with a reporter for New York's Daily News on a story about women in the Hunts Point produce business. The story involves a number of women who are part of family businesses.

"When I first worked here there were no other women," Ms. Gordon said. "Now, 20 years later, when you go to national conventions, 40 percent of the people working on the show floors are women." And, even "the bastion of the male ego" - the Hunts Point market - now involves many women, she noted. Ms. Gordon is also working with Canada's Discovery Channel producers to create a segment on the Hunts Point market for a series featuring some of the largest entities on Earth. Hunts Point is, at least for now, the largest produce market in the united States. (That status will be challenged when a new Philadelphia market opens this fall.)

The Hunts Point market will also be promoted Nov. 9-11 at the Eastern Produce Council's first trade show. Hunts Point has agreed to several show sponsorships, Ms. Gordon said.

Ms. Gordon cited a project that will be helpful to her market that is being promoted by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. This is the placement of "Green Carts" in parts of the city where fresh fruit and vegetable retail purchases are difficult. The plan is to offer healthy food in an effort to combat obesity in the city. Ms. Gordon said that Green Cart produce is being purchased from Hunts Point and added that a consultant on the project is Pete Napolitano -- television personality Produce Pete -- who is on the staff of S. Katzman Produce Inc. on the market.

On June 10, 2009, The New York Times featured the Green Carts in a news story headlined, "Customers Prove There's a Market for Fresh Produce." According to the Times, "The city has approved 1,000 new mobile food carts for neighborhoods in the five boroughs that have long been isolated from traditional supermarkets, grocery stores and farmers markets offering fresh produce at reasonable prices."

The Times quoted Linda Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services, as saying, "There is an epidemic of obesity and diabetes among those who are poor."

"So far, 200 Green Carts, as they are officially called, are now on the streets," the Times reported, adding, " 'Already, people are telling us they're glad we're here,' said Michael Bracho, the 42-year-old proprietor of the Decatur Avenue cart, a downsized former Office Depot manager who describes his new occupation as 'lucrative if you do it right.' "

Ms. Gordon said another effort by the Hunts Point market is daily contributions to the charity City Harvest. The market has donated good- quality fresh fruit and vegetables to City Harvest for six years and is a leading donor. Hunts Point will give 3.9 million pounds of food to City Harvest this year. The market is also a donor to New York City's food bank.

(For more on Hunts Point, see the March 29, 2010, issue of The Produce News.)