Importers greet winter fruit deal

12/16/2011 01:31:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Plantation-based Fresh Quest Inc. expects to bring in cantaloupes, honeydews, seedless watermelons and canary melons from Central America this winter, said Lou Kertesz, the company’s vice president of sales.

After a quiet November, Fresh Quest was enjoying better movement of melons in December, as buyers made the switch from domestic and Mexican production, Kertesz said.

“We’re just coming off a quiet Thanksgiving, but business is pretty brisk today, though,” Kertesz said in early December.

“The fruit in Mexico and Arizona is a little tired.”

Kertesz reported good condition and very good eating quality on the melons Fresh Quest was bringing in from Guatemala in December.

Volumes from Guatemala should be steady until mid-January.

After that, however, there will likely be a gap in shipments of Central American melons to the U.S., Kertesz said.

That’s because Honduras, the next production region in line after Guatemala, has turned its attention elsewhere, Kertesz said.

“Honduras is the new location for European production,” he said.

“Honduras won’t have enough to fill the pipeline.”

On top of that, almost no Costa Rica melons now find their way to U.S. markets.

As a result, Kertesz said, there will likely be a gap from mid-January through February.

After a successful experimental run last season, Fresh Quest is ramping up production this year for its Melorange melons from Central America, Kertesz said.

The Melorange is very sweet, aromatic melon with bright orange flesh. Fresh Quest expects to bring in four or five loads per week this winter.

“We had a good trial run last year. Now we have good production this year,” he said.

Fresh Quest expects to import the Melorange from late December through April, Kertesz said.

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Southern Specialties Inc. expects to bring in mangoes, blackberries and limes from Guatemala this winter, said Charlie Eagle, the company’s vice president of business development.

Southern has been bringing in berries and mangoes for years, Eagle said. Its lime program is relatively new.

Nevertheless, the company is still known primarily for its sugar snap and snow peas, French beans and other vegetables.

What a fruit program provides is convenience and savings to the company’s vegetable customers, Eagle said.

“It allows them to maximize their freight,” he said.


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