Northern Star Weekly
7 September 2015
Trading at Epping market finally gets underway
After more than a decade in the planning, Melbourne’s Wholesale Food Market began trading at its new Epping home for the first time last week.
About 4000 traders, growers and their staff filled the cavernous space with fruit and vegetables last week ready for Thursday’s opening day of trade at the new 70-hectare site on Cooper Street.
Despite setbacks and many outspoken reservations about moving from West Melbourne, where the market operated from 1969, most wholesalers Star Weekly spoke to were impressed with their new $600 million trading floor.
Some had expressed concerns about a lack of unallocated parking. But Charlie Caputo, of Silvan-based flower merchant M & S Sorace, said he had faith in the Melbourne Market Authority to fix their gripes.
“The market is nicer, the set-up is nicer and the hiccups, like parking, will be sorted out in time,” he said.
Despite the new site being almost double the size of the West Melbourne market, growers have been given a smaller trading floor.
Some traders felt their initial concerns about a lack of space were not alleviated in their first week of trade.
Long-time grower Louis Koroneos, of family-owned Keilor Fresh Produce, said his business has been allocated fewer stalls than they had at West Melbourne. “They have only given us two stalls here; they want to cheat all the farmers,” he said.
Melbourne Market Authority chairman Stephen McArthur said the growers’ floor was smaller now because many market gardeners were expanding and tended to consign their goods to wholesalers.
“There were a few nerves about the move and that was understandable.
“But the regular comment I get is that it’s [the market] lighter, safer and more efficient,” he said.
Mr McArthur said the market would be a major trading hub for decades to come.
The state government first announced it would build a new market at Epping in 2004.
The move to the north, close to the airport, was designed to help growers and exporters supply overseas markets and shorten the commute to the state’s food bowl in the north of Victoria.