“We’re in a different world these days. The smaller countries are starting to help us rather than us helping them.”
Cruise ships have also become big customers of Florida produce wholesalers.
As more Americans experience cruise vacations, sales have expanded as well.
Robert Ondrus, director of category management for produce for U.S. Foodservice Inc., Rosemont, Ill., which has Florida operations in Boca Raton, Port Orange, Tampa and Lakeland, said he sees the cruise business continuing to increase.
“If you look at some of these cruise ships, the size of them, it’s unbelievable,’ he said.
“Everyone has a portion of that market. The cruise lines may have a primary supplier, but all suppliers do have a piece of the action, some more than others. It’s a huge business.”
Glantz said sales in its cruise ship division have more than doubled over the past year. Glantz said American likely services about 40% of the cruise ships that call on Miami-area ports.
“This area continues to grow,” Glantz said. “NCL has more ships coming with 10 more ships being built that will enter service in the next 2-2.5 years.”
American also supplies produce to cruise ships calling on ports throughout Florida and in Charleston, S.C., as well as in the Gulf of Mexico as far west as New Orleans.
Freedom Fresh’s Vazquez said sales to the cruise ships seems busy as normal.
He said the cruise business remains strong as patrons receive much value for their money.
Freedom Fresh supplies some purveyors and sells directly to some cruise operations.
“They will use anything from staple items up to exotic specialties,” Vazquez said.
“They’re like everyone else. They’re trying to provide a lot more variety for their customers. They’re also trying to get a little more innovative with their items.”
The Tampa area cruise ship business remains healthy, said Chuck Bruno, vice president and general manager of DiMare Fresh-Tampa Inc., Riverview, Fla.
“It’s a sporadic business,” he said.
DiMare Fresh supplies tomatoes to the purveyors who service the cruise ships that set sail from the Port of Tampa.