Demand remains strong for the specialty items Red Dragon sells to high-end chefs from South Beach to New York and Las Vegas, he said.
Washington uses his 7-year-old daughter, Lauren Washington, as the company’s taste-tester.
“Kids, I have found, are the true test,” Washington said. “They tell you it’s either yummy or yucky.”
One challenge the company faces, however, involves keeping the fruits’ brix levels high, Washington said.
Other challenges for south Florida growers involve high production costs and increasing land values, said Mark Ellenby, grower and owner of LNB Groves, Homestead, who formerly worked for Brooks Tropicals Inc., also based in Homestead.
The company sells its specialty fruit to Asian and Indian distributors through Fresh King Inc., Homestead, and other packers.
“It’s challenging to grow here,” Ellenby said. “We have to do all that we can to have top-quality product to compete with imports. If you want to survive in farming, you have to grow a wide range of products.”