New Smithfield Market -The market that opens while Manchester sleeps

East of Manchester’s city centre, tall, imposing brick buildings, fronted by huge green shutters, loom large out of the darkness. Inside, there are pallets full with every conceivable fruit and vegetable, delivered from every corner of the world, piled high as far as the eye can see.

There's an unmistakable smell of fresh vegetables that instantly conjures up memories of childhood trips to the greengrocer. The atmosphere is anything but still, as hundreds of people work flat out to make sure every single bit of produce gets to where it needs to be.

It is New Smithfield Market. The place that's been feeding Manchester and beyond for generations. The biggest wholesale market in the region, it's a place where decades of tradition meets the 21st century.  Today's market looks very different from the original Smithfield Market, which operated out of Manchester city centre for 100 years, before it moved to Openshaw in the early 1970s.

To the right of the huge produce hall sits the new fish market. The bright, modern building was the first part of the 35 acre site to benefit from a multi-million pound refurbishment.

One of the long-term marketers at New Smithfield is Tony Howard. What Howard doesn't know about fruit and vegetables probably isn't worth knowing. Barton and Redman, where he is the manager, is one of the largest businesses on the site - and the biggest importer of onions in the entire country.

Over the years, as Manchester's population has become more culturally diverse, and its restaurant scene has boomed, the range of produce Tony can offer to his customers has evolved too. The traditional British fruit and veg that dominated its shelves 30 years ago has now been joined by a growing range of exotic produce from all across the globe.

And as consumers' tastes have changed, the business has taken full advantage of different growing seasons around the world. Over the summer, Tony's strawberries came from the UK. Right now, they are coming from Israel and by Christmas they might be brought in from America.

All to meet demand from consumers, who have grown used to eating what was once seasonal produce, all year round.



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