Fall to bring consistent volume of tropicals

09/05/2013 03:04:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Fall remains a strong time to promote tropicals, including mangoes, papaya and pineapple.

An abnormally large Mexican mango harvest sent record weekly shipments to the U.S., which opened the door for numerous retail promotions.

Importers in late August and early September also were sending Brazilian fruit to the market, creating a bit of a glut.

The first containers for Amazon Produce Network, Mullica Hill, N.J., arrived Aug. 12.

“Brazil has been getting strong internal demand,” Greg Golden, sales manager and co-owner, said in late August. “The market here’s not quite ready because of all the Mexican product. Once the volume goes away out of Mexico, supplies will tighten, and Brazil might be the beneficiary of good mango momentum amongst consumers.”

Golden said he expected Mexican volume to start winding down by mid-September.

He said Brazil is producing clean fruit with high blush that meets all the major points for quality.

Expectations for items

Buyers should expect consistent fall papaya volume, said Peter Leifermann, director of sales and fruit procurement for Brooks Tropicals LLC, Homestead, Fla.

“As long as Mother Nature cooperates, our production in Belize should remain consistent throughout the year,” he said in late August.

For limes, importers in late August reported Mexican growers shifting from finishing old crop harvesting to new crop supplies, Leifermann said.

Despite lower supplies during the summer, buyers should expect consistent and promotable fall pineapple supplies.

“Volume should pick up in mid-September,” Michael Warren, president of Central American Produce, said in late August. “Quality is consistent. Demand is always good on pineapples. It seems to be a normal year for us.”

Consumption on tropical items is also increasing, importers say.

Mangoes are faring well against late summer stone fruit and cherries, said Gary Clevenger, managing member and co-founder of Freska Produce International LLC, Oxnard, Calif.

“We’re seeing more calls for mangoes,” Clevenger said. “Once they try them, they tend to buy more. We’ve been offering the clamshells in some of the big-box club stores. They’re selling very well.”

After the big July and August promotion months, Florida growers continued harvesting avocados during the fall.

Thanks to aggressive retail merchandising, consumers are enjoying more Florida green-skinned avocados.

“We’re seeing retailers roll out displays of Florida avocados,” said Mary Ostlund, Brooks’ marketing director. “They have sectioned-off those ready for guacamole and those not so ripe. We’re seeing large avocado displays. They seem to be going fast. It’s definitely an item that can be cross-merchandised.”

For south Florida tropicals, fall remains a good time for retail promotions, said Adrian Capote, vice president of sales for J&C Tropicals Inc., Miami.

“There’s a lot of focus on the roots and offshore deals during the fall, due to consumer trends,” Capote said.

“We start getting demand for ethnic root programs during the fall.”

Tropicals, including papaya and limes, add sizzle to consumers’ palettes, said Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for Pompano Beach-based Southern Specialties Inc.

“There are all kinds of colors, shapes and flavors,” he said. “We’re a sophisticated bunch, and consumers have developed great tastes.

“All have more of a cultivated palette than ever before. We are looking for diversity in our personal menus, and tropicals fit a good role in that with flavor and nutrition benefits.”



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