Turbana, the largest plantain importer into the U.S., has four ocean vessels calling on Costa Rican and Colombian ports. Fyffes has vessels running from Europe to South America and to Miami, Pompano Beach, Fla., and Norfolk, Va. The logistics will allow the two companies to transship fruit from its common ports, Alarcon said.
“When you use third-party cargo ships, it makes it more difficult to compete,” he said. “In this business, you have to be cost efficient. Our idea is to use our distribution channels for selling other kinds of products. In the past, we didn’t do that because we didn’t have the right logistics.”
Those products could include mangoes and other fruits and roots from Brazilian or Chilean sources, Alarcon said.
The logistics upgrade following the Fyffes partnership will allow more importing flexibility, said Jose Jaramillo,
However, the company is increasing volumes on its melons as different harvesting areas enter the deal, Jaramillo said. Turbana expects to ship up to 10 containers or 12,800 boxes of cantaloupe and 15,400 boxes of honeydew a week during the season.
“In the future, we want to be considered a serious player not only in the offshore season but in the long-term as a year-round program,” Alarcon said. “With Fyffes, it will help us even more. They have a structure in Central America and have a good quality control team and people at the packing stations to guarantee quality.”
Turbana is taking on more specialty commodities. This season, it added Costa Rican jicama, malanga, eddoes, chayote, ginger and yampi as well as other tropical items.
The company was expecting to receive its first container of yuca Feb. 12.
Turbana has sourced pineapple from Costa Rica, Panama and Guatemala since 2003. The company expects its alliance with Fyffes to increase its shipments. Turbana expects to ship up to 975,000 boxes of pineapple this year into the U.S.
The pineapple will be marketed under the Fyffes label.