Hunts Point Food Distribution Center: A Critical Infrastructure for NY and US Food Systems  

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH
Hunts Point

The Hunts Point Food Distribution Center (FDC), located on the Hunts Point Peninsula of the Bronx, is, by volume, the largest food distribution hub in the country. According to the NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), the 329-acre FDC campus is home to more than 155 public and private wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers and directly provides 8,500 jobs, the majority of which are held by local Bronx residents. The FDC supplies 25 percent of NYC’s produce, 35 percent of its meat, and 45 percent of its fish through the three major cooperative markets described below. Each year, approximately 4.5 billion pounds of food are distributed through Hunts Point, about half of which stay in NYC. The FDC produces approximately $5 billion* in annual revenue.   

The Hunts Point Produce Market (formerly the New York City Terminal Market) moved to Hunts Point in 1967 after operating in Manhattan for more than 150 years. It now sits on 103 acres of land and operates as a cooperative comprising approximately 25 merchants who transport fresh produce from 49 states and 55 foreign countries and distribute it to wholesalers, retailers, independent grocers, and restaurateurs throughout NYC and beyond. The market is open for sales on the wholesale level year-round from 9 PM on Sunday through 3 PM the following Friday. Customers range from supermarkets and restaurants to cart vendors and bodegas – it is not open for general retail sales – and produce must be purchased by the crate. The Produce Market generates approximately $2 to $2.3 billion* in annual revenue, and 15 million pounds of surplus produce per year is donated to food rescue and food service organizations that feed hungry and food-insecure households throughout the five boroughs of NYC and Westchester County.  

Built in 1972, the Hunts Point Cooperative Market, the second of the three cooperatives at the FDC, includes 52 companies employing 2,400 individuals on 60 acres of land and produces $2 billion* in annual revenue.  It is primarily involved in the processing and distribution of meat and meat products in the Tri-State area, with customers consisting of large chain store supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, and country clubs, as well as independent butcher shops.    

The Fulton Fish Market Cooperative, which is the third major cooperative at the FDC, is the largest fish market in the US, and the second largest in the world, after the Tsukiji Market in Japan. It has been open since 1822, originally operating at South Street Seaport in Manhattan before moving to Hunts Point in 2005. The Fish Market occupies about 36 acres, receives 2 million pounds of seafood every day, and generates $1 billion* in annual revenue.   

In addition to these three cooperatives, the FDC is home to many other major food businesses – Citarella, Sultana Distributors, Baldor Foods, Anheuser Busch, Krasdale Foods, Meade Enterprises, and Chef’s Warehouse – that collectively comprise a critical component of our regional food supply chain.   

Renovations and Future Plans  
Because Hunts Point FDC plays a pivotal role in our regional and national food systems, it is important to fortify its infrastructure against any climate impacts and to implement additional sustainability and resiliency initiatives to ensure that the campus can adapt to changes in industry and policy goals. Over the past several years, the Hunts Point infrastructure has been bolstered to help the FDC withstand natural disasters. In response to the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Hunts Point Resiliency Feasibility Study was introduced in 2015 to study and plan for environmental risks. That allowed for NYCEDC to conduct the Hunts Point Energy Resiliency Project, with $71 million of city and federal grants and funding, to provide reliable, dispatchable, and sustainable power to Hunts Point through a combination of energy generation and storage solutions.    

Another exciting new development nearing completion in 2024 is the New York State Regional Food Hub, a brand new 60,000 square-foot local food distribution facility that will be operated by GrowNYC, a non-profit focused on sustainable food programming and education in all five boroughs. The hub will procure food from upstate New York farmers in order to provide low-income NYC communities with affordable access to fresh produce.   

Because the FDC is located in the industrial neighborhood of Hunts Point, where air pollution levels and asthma rates are higher than in other boroughs, NYCEDC and the City have prioritized incorporating clean energy and decarbonization goals into the FDC’s long-term strategy. An approximately $650 million redevelopment project is currently underway to upgrade and improve the infrastructure of the Hunts Point Produce Market, which will significantly improve air quality, and, therefore, the health and safety of Hunts Point community members. The project has received funding from both the public and private sectors: $130 million from the city, $130 million from the state, $135 million from federal grants, and up to $250 million from a private developer.   

Overall, the redevelopment project aims to modernize the market facilities, make them more environmentally friendly, and bring them into compliance with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Food Safety Modernization Act in order to support business growth and improve intermodal freight service onsite. 

  • To reduce emissions, the expanded facility will eliminate the 1,000 diesel-fueled refrigerated trailers that currently idle on the property.   
  • Electric vehicle freight-charging stations will be installed to encourage more electric freight vehicles traveling to and from the FDC.   
  • The rail network that connects to the campus will be redesigned to improve rail service and support the transportation of more food to the market by rail.  
  • The project will create high-quality jobs in a neighborhood that struggles with low employment rates, low labor-force participation, and poverty.   

When the project is completed, the market will also include expanded refrigerated warehouse space and additional space designated for ancillary services.   

Community Engagement  
The local Hunts Point community has always been an important partner in NYCEDC’s work. Hunts Point Forward is a community-driven vision plan to create a safe, healthy and thriving community for all Hunts Point residents, businesses, and visitors. The vision will be realized through a City and community partnership over the next 15 years. Some initiatives arising from Hunts Point Forward include: 

  • Creating new green spaces and waterfront access within the peninsula at Hunts Point Landing and the Anheuser-Bush Greenway, 
  • Supporting the Bronx’s largest community solar project at Krasdale, and  
  • Hosting job fairs in the neighborhood.  

NYCEDC constantly tries to ensure equity, inclusion, and environmental justice in all planning efforts for the Hunts Point peninsula.   

Join the Hunts Point Campus  
The entire 20,000 square-foot second-floor office space of 600 Food Center Drive is currently available to lease to an innovative, forward-thinking, food- and/or beverage-focused company that is interested in joining the Hunts Point campus. The FDC is under the jurisdiction of the New York State Agriculture and Markets law, which requires for all uses on the campus to be food-centric in nature.   

This is a great opportunity for an entrepreneurial organization wanting to become part of the industrial food cluster that plays a crucial role in our food system, both regionally and nationally.   

*Revenue numbers provided from 2008 data.  

Related Articles

Subscribe To Weekly NYC Food Policy Watch Newsletter
Subscribe to our weekly email newsletter today to receive updates on the latest news, reports and event information
No Thanks
Thanks for signing up. You must confirm your email address before we can send you. Please check your email and follow the instructions.
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Subscribe today.