International destinations are attractive to growers

12/23/2013 03:12:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Some U.S. importers see increased competition from Europe and other international destinations for Central American fruits and vegetables, but others don’t.

Fresh Quest Inc., a Plantation, Fla.-based melon grower-shipper and marketer, expects to import melons — including cantaloupes, honeydews, galias, mini-watermelons and full-size watermelons ­—­ from Guatemala to the U.S. from November to April this season.

But that doesn’t mean the company won’t be shipping in other directions as well, president Alan Guttmann said.

“Fresh Quest is sending quite a bit more to international markets,” he said. “We’ve expanded our distribution to have a little more international scope.”

Rotterdam and the U.K. are some of Fresh Quest’s top European destinations, and the company is looking for more, Guttmann said.

The Middle East is another international market where Fresh Quest has seen growth.

However, others say they don’t see that much competition.

Mango growers in South American ship substantial volumes of fruit outside North America, but the same isn’t as true of their neighbors to the north, said William Watson, executive director of the Orlando-based National Mango Board.

“We see some competition from Brazil, Ecuador and Peru, but not as much from Central America,” Watson said. “They ship some abroad, but there’s not a lot of competition.”

There is a customer base for Guatemalan fruits and vegetables in Europe, but Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for Southern Specialties, Pompano Beach, Fla., said his company has its gaze fixed on the U.S. and Canada.

“We’re focused on North America,” he said. “Our volumes are dedicated to our customer (in those markets).”



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