Philadelphia’s Marketplace Brings Diversity and Accolades to the Table

Targeted and neighborhood independent stores, such as
Sangillo’s Farm Fresh Produce and Deli in Drexel Hill, are thriving in the Philadelphia area.

A plethora of retail and foodservice formats find opportunity in Philly.

Originally printed in the September 2023 issue of Produce Business.

Philadelphia has long been a competitive and varied food environment. The marketplace boasts large retailers, such as Giant Foods, Wegmans, Acme, Walmart, Whole Foods, Target, Aldi, Costco and BJ’s. The market also supports numerous thriving independent chains, including Redner’s, a variety of strong ShopRite stores, Trader Joe’s and dollar stores.

“There is fierce competition in the Delaware Valley omnichannel retail landscape,” says Rick Feighery, vice president of sales for Procacci Brothers Sales Corporation, a merchant on the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM).

“Each of the well-known operators has its own strengths. We also see the flexibility of independent retailers. They are very nimble, able to adapt and thriving. We continue to align closely with all customers, large and small, to be a full-service wholesale provider.”

Though large operators may be most visible, Philly’s retail opportunity includes a multitude of other small chains, corner stores and niche or ethnic retailers. “Philly’s mix of stores serves to boost produce sales in general with consumers and with our businesses,” says Todd Penza, salesman with Pinto Brothers, another PWPM merchant.


Targeted neighborhood stores such as Iovine Brothers, Riverwards, Di Bruno Brothers, and Cousin’s Supermarkets continue to grow.

“A lot of the small independents who are a bit more aggressive are growing their businesses,” says Rick Milavsky, president of B.R.S. Produce, a full line produce house at the PWPM. “In the city neighborhoods, consumers like the convenience of going to a corner market.”

In addition to its retail store in downtown Philadelphia, Iovine Brothers Produce also operates a wholesale business delivering to local Philadelphia offices, small restaurants and home chefs. “We rely on PWPM to help us grow our business,” says Vinnie Iovine, owner. “These guys take care of us.”

Immigrant and ethnic communities have experienced their own success stories, largely driven by support at Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market.

“The Philly retail climate is one of diversity and inclusion,” says RJ Durante, co-owner of Nardella, a wholesaler on the PWPM. “We welcome all who are willing to put the time, effort, and energy into buying and selling produce. There is opportunity there. When I see new customers, it’s a joy, because as much as I like seeing the same people, I also love seeing a new area getting the store they need.”

John Collotti, director of operations and purchasing at Collotti and Sons, observes increasing Hispanic and Asian formats. “These groups are opening stores in areas where there weren’t stores before,” he says. “It’s where we see growth. Some of my customers took over stores that were previously closed and are operating them with success.”


For decades, Philadelphia has enjoyed acclaim for amazing restaurants. “Many of Philly’s dining and drinking establishments are routinely recognized for their talent,” says Glenn Messinger, vice president of Baldor Specialty Foods Philadelphia.

At the 2023 James Beard Foundation awards, Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon of Kalaya took home the award in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category. High Street Hospitality’s Ellen Yin (Produce Business previously profiled her restaurant Fork) won the national award for Outstanding Restaurateur. And Friday Saturday Sunday (another previous Produce Business profile) nabbed the coveted award for Outstanding Restaurant.

Previous Produce Business profile spots Zahav and Vedge are multi-time James Beard Award honorees. Unique restaurants such as Indonesian Hardena and Gabriella’s Vietnam showcase the diversity being honored, as a new group of restaurateurs bring even greater variety to Philly’s food scene.