Produce Distribution Center For Wal-Mart Could Be Located In Century

March 24, 2009

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Produce headed from Panhandle farms to Wal-Mart stores across the area could soon be making a stop in Century, bringing life to an empty building and much needed jobs.

Marketing cooperative Panhandle Fresh currently helps farmers across the Florida Panhandle and South Alabama sell their produce in the nation’s largest retailer.

Right now, it is a process that requires a farmer in Walnut Hill, for instance, to drive to each of the 22 Wal-Marts in Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties where the produce is to be sold. It is hundreds of miles and many hours for a farmer to deliver, for instance, watermelons from Walnut Hill to Wal-Mart.

But Panhandle Fresh Executive Director Cindy Anderson has a better idea and hopes to put her idea into place in Century. She is applying for a federal grant to place a large walk-in cooler at Century’s Habitat Building, providing the farmers in Panhandle Fresh with a distribution center of their very own. The premise is simple: farmers would deliver their produce to the central distribution facility in Century, rather than driving to each of up to 22 Wal-Mart stores. Panhandle Fresh would then coordinate the produce delivery from Century to the retails stores.

“It looks to me like they have a lot of good ideas,”  Walnut Hill farmer Steve Hiebert said. His Steve’s Sweet Corn is currently sold at Wal-Mart under an agreement with Panhandle Fresh. “It might make it more feasible for us to sell more product this way since we would not have to deliver to all of the stores.”

“If the producer does not have to drive to all of the retail stores but just to one central distribution center, it will make him more profit,” Anderson said. At this point in her plans, Anderson does not know how many jobs the Century distribution center would create, but that number is expected to be relatively small.

This was the second part of a NorthEscambia.com series on Panhandle Fresh. To read yesterday’s story, click here.

Pictured above: A field that will eventually grow watermelons for Wal-Mart is cultivated Monday afternoon in Walnut Hill. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge. Pictured below: Panhandle Fresh merchandise in an area Wal-Mart store. Submitted photo.

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Comments

5 Responses to “Produce Distribution Center For Wal-Mart Could Be Located In Century”

  1. Yvonne Bates on May 27th, 2009 9:41 pm

    yes comment:
    wouldn’t this stop the purpose of the Co-Op by allowing the farmers to grow and sell. And if this happens wouldn,t it make you a broker. Isn’t that what the wal-Mart wants to get away from, by allowing the farmers the advantage to sell to the stores were they can get it fresh and local. Not by haven stored than sold.

    Even if you do not publish this could you respond.

  2. mike on March 28th, 2009 4:35 pm

    anything that brings jobs to the area is a good thing.Why doesn’t escambia county go after wal-mart to build a full D.C. here? If it was built somewhere between say molino and century. it could serve the panhandle and mobile. this could bring alot of good jobs

  3. DOUBLE AA on March 27th, 2009 5:55 pm

    WOW FINALLY SOMEONE THINKING OF A GOOD THING TO HELP OUR LOCAL PEOPLE THAT ARE OUT OF WORK. GO FOR IT……………….

  4. RDB on March 27th, 2009 12:06 pm

    Well just maybe they can build any additions needed, Century is a great location for this. Lets don’t shoot progress before it has a chance to get started.

  5. Jay on March 24th, 2009 9:44 am

    How many square feet is this building in Century? Is it big enough and does it have a loading dock to to support this type of operation?





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