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.
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.