Amazon Produce Network

Amazon Produce Network says its West Coast operation, which it opened a year ago, has exceeded expectations.

“We have been able to service a lot of fantastic retail accounts up there, as well as processors that we had even before we started the office out there,” said Greg Golden, a partner in the Mullica Hill, N.J.-based mango shipper.

The Los Angeles office, at 1791 Bay St., is subleased from Coast Produce. It was set up as a two-person office, run by industry veteran Salvador Barba, but now it has six employees, Golden said.

“It’s an excellent option for our offshore growers to be able to direct fruit to either coast with confidence,” Golden said. “We have our own people on-site handling the fruit the proper way. They get the best results for our customers.

Marcelo Gomes joined the West Coast office as quality-control manager in December.

“He had been in Brazil for about a year with one of our major growers in Brazil,” Golden said.

Gomes also had participated in Amazon’s internship program, which brings in students from Brazil to work as long as 18 months with the company, including six-month stints in Los Angeles.

“We also have a couple of our current interns out there, as well,” Golden said. “They’re all agronomy students at the technical agriculture university in the Brazilian growing region.”

Amazon Produce Network has also added Jonathan Smith to its sales staff.

The company plans to increase its Guatemalan mango deal this year from 1.5 million boxes to 2 million boxes.

Amazon Produce also plans to increase the Guatemalan mango program at its Los Angeles location.

Cabello Produce

McAllen, Texas-based Cabello Produce Corp. says its new label, which is launched last year for its Ataulfo mangoes, has been a success.

The label, Emperador, was launched a year ago as a way to help the company’s fruit stand out, said Juan Santos, general manager.

The company shipped about 280,000 cases under the label last year and anticipates a similar volume this year, he said.

Emperador replaced the old Marvelous label, he said.

Central American Produce

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Central American Produce has expanded its tropical fruit line, said Sabine Henry, sales representative.

“We expanded our tropicals into limes and we have not brought in ataulfos from Mexico,” she said.

Farmer’s Best

Nogales, Ariz.-based Farmer’s Best International LLC hired 13-year industry veteran Mario Cardenas as salesman for its Edinburg, Texas, office in January.

Cardenas, a native of McAllen, Texas, had worked for RCF Produce in McAllen for six years.

“I came to Farmer’s to help them run their mango deal — That’s what I kind of did at RCF,” Cardenas said. “I wanted to develop a stronger program.”

Farmers has had a satellite operation in the Lower Rio Grande Valley for several years, but the company is trying to expand its presence in the area, perhaps with its own warehouse in the area in the future, Cardenas said.

“It’s not concrete that we’re going to do it, but eventually the company is going to grow so that we’ll open our own place somewhere down here,” he said.

Farmers has shipped about half of its mangoes — all from Mexico — through McAllen and the other half through Nogales, but that could be changing this year, Cardenas said.

“We’re going to concentrate the bulk of our mango volume in McAllen this year,” he said. “The business needs to grow more to the east, so it’s more convenient for customers there to pick up the product here.”

Farmer’s Best currently leases about 20,000 square feet of space in the Rio Grande Produce Park in Edinburg, Cardenas said.

J&C Tropicals

Miami-based J&C Tropicals has opened “a small division” focusing on frozen products, according to Jesse Capote, vice president and owner.

“We’ve been in the market about eight months,” he said. “We’ve delivered about 20-30 containers of fruit and roots, including mangoes.”

The customer base for the line, branded Eco Tropicals, is primarily retailers, he said.