Central American Produce brings back Mike Shields, boosts watermelon program

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Central American Produce has added a director of business development, and has plans to ramp up its Central American watermelon program this season, said Michael Warren, president.

Mike Shields, who worked for Central American in the 1980s, is in charge of business development in all areas, Warren said, including growing, sales, new business and diversification of product lines.

Shields, who rejoined Central American in November, worked most recently for Pompano Beach-based Southern Specialties.

Before that, he worked as the southeast regional vice president of Del Monte Fresh NA Inc., Coral Gables, Fla.

“We’re fortunate that Mike was interested in coming back and leading this part of the company for us,” Warren said.

Also new at Central American, the company will ramp up its Guatemalan watermelon import deal this year, Warren said.

Shipments are expected to begin in February.

“It’s fairly new for us,” he said. “We’ve had trials. This will be our first year commercially.”

The move is part of Central American’s larger project of diversifying its product lines in Central and South America, as well as in the U.S., Warren said.

Giumarra adds new technology to ensure fruit sweetness

Los Angeles-based Giumarra Cos. has adopted technology that ensures the consistent sweetness of its Mexican melons.

New, nonmechanical brixing technology has already paid off in the consistently high eating quality of Giumarra’s cantaloupes south of the border this season, said Nick Rendon, division manager in the company’s Nogales, Ariz., office.

“Cantaloupes can now be graded out and sorted based on specific brix measurements without any physical damage occurring to the fruit,” he said.

Rendon said the technology was the first of its kind in Mexico.

In other company news, Giumarra has expanded its organic cantaloupe production in Mexico this season, Rendon said. And the company will continue to supply fresh-cut melon to customers this year, he said.