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M. Levin and Co. continues family legacy in Philadelphia

By
Keith Loria

M. Levin and Co. is a wholesale produce distributor based in Philadelphia, working six units (H2-H7) within the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market.

Established in 1906, the family-owned-and-operated business is currently led by third- and fourth-generation family members. The company is renowned as one of the largest banana ripeners and distributors on the East Coast and is also recognized for its extensive selection of tropical produce, offering one of the widest assortments in the Tri-State area.

M. Levin
Ryan Miller, Mark Levin and Tracie Levin

In addition to bananas and tropical goods, M. Levin provides a full range of fresh fruits and vegetables, maintaining the quality and variety that form the core of its reputation.   

“The produce business has been good to us,” said Mark Levin, CEO of the company, who has been in the business for 48 years. “Things have been a little tough with the importer prices being high this year, but with weather and growing conditions and everything else, that’s just a fact of life that we all need to adjust to.”

Even so, business has been steady at the company.

“My father used to tell me, ‘business doesn’t have to get any better, as long as it doesn’t get any worse,’” Levin said. “We’re a full line house as far as fruits, vegetables, nuts, melons, berries and if some of the items aren’t moving due to price, we’ll look to other items to increase our volume and we’re always looking for new items and something to add to our list.”

Currently, M. Levin and Co. has upward of 900 items, with more tropical produce that Levin himself can name.

He finds new ideas from talking with customers and reading The Produce News, he said.

“I’m always walking around and seeing where we can improve the operation,” Levin said. “We have a big ethnic population and they all have their ideas of what they want and what they need, so I just try to listen to them and bring in what they want. Someone is always mentioning a new item. It’s just a matter of keeping your eyes and ears open.”

This year, the company is seeing big business with mangos, papayas and Asian squashes. Dragon fruit is also rising in popularity.

The company has a huge legacy in Philadelphia dating back 118 years, and Levin is proud of all his family has accomplished.

“We work hard and every generation has either wanted to come here because they wanted to come here, or they go elsewhere to make a living,” Levin said. “What makes Philadelphia unique is the city’s history. When my grandfather started here in 1906, bananas were considered a delicacy and no one knew what they were. Now we sell 28,000 boxes of bananas a week. We’ve come a long way from a pushcart to this.”

These days, the 70-year-old Levin thinks of his time working as more of a hobby, noting his daughter Tracie, a fourth-generation family member who was the first woman in Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market history to serve on the market’s board of directors, has her own way of running things and is tasked with moving things into the future.

“Every generation has their own plan,” Levin said. “Tracie who has been here 18 years, has her plans. The way my father did things, the way I did things and the way she does things, are all different. Our major plan is to keep this a family business.”

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Keith Loria

Keith Loria

About Keith Loria  |  email

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is a D.C.-based award-winning journalist who has been writing for major publications for close to 20 years on topics as diverse as real estate, food and sports. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at magazines aimed at healthcare, sports and technology. When not busy writing, he can be found enjoying time with his wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Jordan and Cassidy.

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