A relatively new way to purchase wholesale produce in New York is through produce auctions.
Produce auctions allow farmers to spend less time on marketing and more time on growing their produce. According to a recent study done by Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Seneca Produce Auction has lead growers to plant more acres of vegetables, leading to an increase in vegetable acres in the area. Growers have also specialized in extending their season due to the price premium growers receive from getting their products to market early. They do this using row covers and hightunnels. They typically have local tomatoes in early May and local sweet corn by the 4th of July.
Buyers at produce auctions include independent supermarkets, farm stands, restaurants, caterers, farmers market vendors and canners. Buyers report that purchasing at produce auctions saves them time as they are able to purchase a wide variety of products at one time and place.
Have you ever been to a produce auction? It can be intimidating at first to purchase produce at an auction. First you need to stop at the office to get a number. This number will allow you to purchase or sell at the auction. Then you need to make a bid on some produce or flowers. At the Seneca Produce Auction, they start with the larger lots of produce and move on to smaller lots. Then you collect your items and go back to the office to pay your bill. If you don’t want to go through the auction process, or you simply don’t have the time, you can also buy through an ‘order-buyer’. An order buyer is a member of the auction house staff that will make produce purchases on behalf of others following the quantity and pricing specifications given by the buyer.
Anyone can sell at the auction. All you need is to get a number from the office and follow their rules for packaging your produce. The core group of sellers at the Seneca Produce Auction sell most of their produce at the auction. Many farmstand operators have changed their business models based on the produce auctions. They have started to specialize in growing larger quantities of a smaller variety of items, selling those items at the auction while purchasing the things they no longer grow to supplement the ones that they do grow. They also serve as a place for farmers who don’t always sell at the auction, but have surplus of a certain item that they need to move right away and don’t have a ready buyer to sell to. Everything sells at the auction. If there is an oversupply of a certain product, the price can get pretty low but there is nothing that doesn’t sell.
There are currently six produce auctions in New York State, with two of them being in the Finger Lakes Region. The Seneca Produce Auction is located on Yerkes Rd in Romulus and is open on Tuesday and Friday at 10:00 am, on June 19th they will change their days to Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The Finger Lakes Produce Auction is located on route 14a in Penn Yan and is open Mondays at 10:00 and Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:00. They are a great way to purchase affordable, local wholesale produce. Click on the links below for addresses, contact information, schedules and more a more detailed description of how to purchase at a produce auction.
Produce Auctions in New York State:
This document has locations, times and contact information for all the produce auctions in New York State.
How to purchase at the New York State Produce Actions:
This document has detailed instructions for purchasing at a produce auction.
Last updated June 30, 2017