Economic pressures complicate business, shippers say - The Packer

Economic pressures complicate business, shippers say

04/25/2013 04:44:00 PM
Jim Offner

Hispanic and Asian consumers represent about 20% of the U.S. population and consume fruits at a higher rate than the average American consumer, she said.

Tropicals a treat for budget cutters

Perhaps there are some tradeoffs that don’t harm the tropical line during times of nearly 8% unemployment, as been the case in the U.S. consistently over the last several years, some marketers said.

“With consumers wanting to pamper themselves at home — even if they can’t afford to travel or dine out as much — trying a new tropical fruit is like a special treat, said Karen Caplan, chief executive officer of Los Alamitos, Calif.-based Frieda’s Inc.

Food shows and other media may have helped insulate tropical fruit products from the recession, she said.

Some fruits that may not have gotten as much exposure as others might be more vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean they’re not cost-friendly, said Mary Ostlund, marketing director at Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals Inc.

“Economic downward trends may hinder a consumer’s willingness to try new things, but in many cases … the fruit is large and it delivers a lot of bang for the buck,” she said.

Gary Clevenger, managing member and co-founder of Oxnard, Calif.-based Freska Produce International LLC, said his company hasn’t felt any negative effects of a sluggish economy.

“We have seen sales increases every year since we started Freska in 2004, (even) with the economic forces in effect for the past three years,” he said.

He did add, however, that economic factors might have prevented higher profit margins.

Tropical fruit is no worse off than other fruits in down economic times, said Jessie Capote, vice president/owner of Miami-based J&C Tropicals, but “the economy doesn’t spare anyone,” he said.

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