Volume holds steady on Central American fruit, vegetable imports

12/14/2012 02:50:00 PM
Mike Hornick

Movement of Central American pineapple imports through West Coast markets was slowed by an eight-day strike of clerical workers in late November at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Mangoes

For mangoes, all eyes were on Peru as December started. Central American production won’t begin until March when Costa Rica and Nicaragua come in, followed by Guatemala in April.

“What everybody’s watching is how much Peru will get out,” Jessie Capote, partner in Miami-based J&C Tropicals, said Nov. 27.

“We know it will start early, we just don’t know how fast.”

Larry Nienkerk, partner in Burlingame, Calif.-based Splendid Products, said Peru’s increase on mango volume could be as much as 20%. His packing operations there started the week of Dec. 3. The Peru deal goes to early April.

Vegetables

Southern Specialties, Pompano Beach, offers seasonal 1- and 2-pound packages of its french beans through Christmas or New Year, depending on the retailer.

“It features a ribbon and holiday callout, a little something to remind people that french beans are perfect for holiday dinners,” said Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development.

At the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2012 in October in Anaheim, Calif., the company also introduced zippered, handled pouches for its Southern Selects sugar snap peas, french beans and brussels sprouts.

The beans are sourced in Guatemala and Baja California, Mexico. In Guatemala, sugar snap peas grow December to June.

“This year we have grown and imported more french beans than any year in the past,” Eagle said.

All crops benefited from favorable weather as winter started, he said, including fruits such as berries and limes.

Fresh Quest is in the second year of a partnership with Rosemont Farms on french beans and sugar snap peas out of Guatemala.

“It’s a value-added product, trimmed and prepacked in modified atmosphere packaging, distributed under the Rosemont label,” Guttmann said.

“We special pack it for them. It’s not a lot of volume, a couple loads a week. But one container’s worth of value-added is a potential equivalent to four loads of melons.”

J&C Tropicals’ main imports from Central America and the Caribbean are roots, including taro, yucca and Jamaican yellow yams. Capote expected good supplies for Hispanic and other shoppers this winter.



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