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The new Philadelphia produce market will not open before the first of the year.

That is a reality that Philadelphia Fresh Food Terminal Corp. executives Jimmy Storey, president, and Louis Penza, vice president, shared in an Aug. 18 conference call with The Produce News.

"We've been kind of told it's been pushed back to the first of the year, but no one is going to officially say it," said Mr. Penza. "Call it a 'well-grounded rumor.'"

The original schedule was to have the new market, which is called Regional Produce Cooperative Corp., commissioned by the end of July. Two months of testing refrigeration and other systems will be required after commissioning to assure the market is going to reliably operate before the massive commitment to move from the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market.

Mr. Storey, who last visited the construction site in early August, said that the commissioning was far from complete. For example, the racks were not installed in the cold-storage units of Quaker City Produce Co., which is owned by Mr. Storey.

"Even if we were commissioned now, it would be November" before the market could move. "Then you have the holidays."

That is the rub, because Mr. Storey, and many other Philadelphia produce distributors have told The Produce News that they would not move into the market before the holiday season, which is the largest-volume period of the terminal market's sales year.

The reasoning is, of course, that it's going to be challenging enough to move to a new facility, and moving during a sales peak would not be feasible.

So, will there be a move in 2010?

"I really don't see it," Mr. Storey said.