The buzz around locally grown fresh produce has extended to products often imported from other countries.
Fresh King Inc., Homestead, Fla., is shipping an array of items — including avocados, carambola, dragon fruit, guava, longans, lychee, mangoes, mostera and passion fruit — under its 1862 Redland Grown label.
Redland refers to the agricultural area south of Miami, where Fresh King grows the majority of its product, while the 1862 reference is an homage to the Homestead Act, the Civil War era legislation that promised settlers free land.
“We ship it everywhere,” said Fresh King general manager Alvaro Perpuly, “but we want people to know it’s grown here as opposed to imported. A lot of retailers are putting a focus on local.”
Fresh King launched 1862 Redland Grown last year, and the grower is preparing for its second season with the label in May. Fresh King is putting the brand on Price Look-Up stickers, clamshells and boxes. The word Florida also is prominent in the brand’s logo.
“It was beautiful, the response from retailers to locally branded product,” Perpuly said. “It worked well. People were asking for the brand.”
Fresh King will ship Florida product as late as January with its avocado crop. Perpuly said the company expects to ship about 400,000 boxes of Florida avocados.
Perpuly said locally grown tropicals, including mangoes, have advantages compared to imported products.
“Florida mangoes have more flavor and sugar than other mangoes,” he said. “We don’t have to pick early, and we don’t have to treat the mangoes like they do in other countries to get them into the U.S.”