Originally printed in the December 2019 issue of Produce Business.
When you hear the word terminal market many may think of a middleman, or simply one more step in the supply chain, or even the most incorrect assumption of all, which is terminal markets are merely a dumping ground for product.
But terminal markets are so much more than that. A terminal market is a partner for the farmers — helping them combat the unknown effects of Mother Nature. It is also an extension of the retailers when product does not arrive perfect or is in short supply or when space is tight because they want to maximize on their retail display.
Most importantly, we are a wealth of information for everyone. When I say information, I am not only talking about the flow from farmer to retailer about new varieties coming on or expected supply volume. The flow of information back from the consumer to the farmer is equally if not even more important than anything else. Feedback on the customer experience is vital, because that positive consumer experience, which brings the person back to the store to purchase that product again, is really what every farmer and every retailer is trying to achieve.
Questions like — what did they like that made them buy it again? What didn’t they like that made them not buy it a second time? What do they prefer about other products that they bought instead? What would they like to try that they saw on TV or in a movie or when they traveled to other countries?
All of these answers are the building blocks to growing a business, and if this information doesn’t make it back up through the supply chain, then the farmer cannot make adjustments. They say “knowledge is power,” and every industry in the world strives to give their customers what they want. Having a direct path for information from a variety of customers to provide a diverse sample of likes and dislikes is every producer’s dream, and that is why it is the most important service terminal markets provide.
Every day we work with big retail chains, independent supermarkets, purveyors, jobbers, wholesalers, foodservice, restaurants, mom & pop shops, fruit stands and even some direct consumers who love their fruit and veggies so much they come to the market directly to buy for their homes. We have a variety of opinions right at our fingertips, and we are still lucky enough to do the majority of our business face to face or over the phone. There is no substitute for timely, back-and-forth and straight-to-the-point conversations.
Having a direct path for information from a variety of customers to provide a diverse sample of likes and dislikes is every producer’s dream, and that is why it is the most important service terminal markets provide.
Some of our sales are done a few weeks in advance, some are done a few days out, but most are done within 12 hours of the product hitting the shelves. This gives us the advantage of working with our customers to make adjustments on the fly. We can trial new pricing, new display options and keep the shelves stocked when sampling demos are more successful than anyone predicted, and product is flying out the door. Terminal markets are the perfect mix of consistent fresh supply, variety of products and the perfect testing ground for the next great idea that is hitting our industry.
Terminal markets around the country are located in some of the busiest cities with highly diverse populations and are a great way to introduce imported product to a large customer base all at once. With one phone call to a wholesaler on a terminal market, a farmer from another country can reach the immigrant customer that is looking for a taste of home, the tourist who is a little home sick, the foodie who loves to try everything and the adventurist who didn’t even know he or she was missing something great.
We sell so many different products that we have the ability to put together orders and add a few boxes of something new to thousands of customers to maximize the impact for the item. We are the logistical agent that extends your reach, and the informational funnel back to you on how successful that reach actually was. We can tell you what worked for most and what changes you may want to try to reach others.
We can tell you the ideal price points depending upon the type of store and the area they are located in. We can help you take advantage of the customers you couldn’t possibly reach or even know existed. We can get you feedback of every shape and kind from everyone experiencing your product and give you the tools you need to make your business as successful as possible.
We are a partner with every member of the supply chain from farmer to consumer and everyone in between. So, if that is what you are looking for — just reach out to a wholesaler on a terminal market. We will be more than happy to bring you into our produce family.
Stefanie Katzman is executive manager of S. Katzman Produce Inc., Katzman Berry Corp., Sharkey’s Trucking Inc. and co-owner of MamaMia Produce and Bad Apple. She began her produce career right out of High School in 2001 working summers for the family business in the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx, NY. She works alongside her father, Stephen Katzman who is president and owner of the businesses, continuing to lead the amazing team of about 370 employees that make up the Katzman staff today