(CORRECTED): Pompano Beach, Fla.-based HLB Specialties LLC is starting to import Guatemalan rambutan.
The papaya specialist received its first shipment on June 25 and is marketing the tropical fruit through a major retailer’s Florida stores, said Melissa Hartmann de Barros, HLB’s director of communications.
Similar to the lychee, longan and mamoncillo, HLB successfully promoted the fruit at a Miami soccer match featuring Argentinean soccer star Lionel Messi.
She said many of the Latin Americans in the aisles of the tailgating event saw HLB’s people from far away and recognized the fruit from their home country.
“Some of the kids were scared as they didn’t know what it was. But once they ate it, it had great reception,” Hartmann de Barros said. “This will be a great new item for retailers to promote. It’s the right time for people who are interested in trying something aside from the stone fruit and for those who are a little more adventurous will try and like this sweet fruit.”
The Guatemalan season typically ends in November.
HLB offers rambutans in 5- and 5.8-pound bulk cartons that include 24 clamshells holding four pieces of fruit.
The clamshells feature instructions on how to peel and consume the fruit.
Hartmann de Barros said HLB has is also marketing Peru avocados.
Last fall, HLB Tropical Food USA Inc. and Pompano Beach-based Southern Specialties Inc. created HLB Specialties in a business partnership to market tropical items.
Note on correction: the article originally incorrectly stated HLB's ownership.