Florida fresh produce distributors highlight local angle

01/19/2012 05:30:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

“Some of our buyers can’t wait until you get started,” Bruno said. “They want you to switch to that. They have a customer base asking for it. Local grown is a good thing to promote.”

Local is also an important concern for those that buy specialties.

Justin Warren, general manager of Coosemans Tampa Inc., said Florida distributors take advantage of the many locally grown specialties, such as kumquats from Dade City, north of Tampa, and a variety of specialties such as starfruit, passion fruit, yucca and malanga grown in the Redlands growing region at Homestead, south of Miami.

“Among my customer base, the big question a lot of the time lately is if buyers can get the products grown in Florida,” Warren said. “There are some initiatives where people want to have that on their menus or put a sign beside it on their display shelf saying this is from Florida.”

Warren called specialty demand steady. While Coosemans focuses on specialty produce, it distributes other produce, such as carrots and lettuce, among its herbs and exotic fruit such as kiwano and pepino melons and tricolored and gourmet carrots.

Marshall Glantz, president of exports, cruise ships and business development and executive director for American Fruit & Produce Corp., Opa Locka, said distributors take advantage of Florida’s fall, winter and spring abundance.

“It’s all local, everywhere in the state,” he said. “Whether it’s citrus or vegetables. You name the product that grows here, and we’re sourcing it. A lot of customers recognize and value the local Florida product.”


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