( File photo )

The winter months are a time for specific fresh fruit and vegetable items from Mexico to pile up sales, marketers say.

Some special events help to fuel sales of some items, such as avocados for the Super Bowl,said Aaron Quon, executive greenhouse category director of Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group.

Growers in Sinaloa were starting to hit their harvesting peak in tomatoes by early February, and ample volumes of field-grown tomatoes were hitting the market in short order, Quon said.

“Greenhouses in Culiacan will come into production, as well, which, for Oppy, means steady lifts in volume,” Quon said. 

Oppy’s Mexico grower-partner, Divemex, has been producing in Nayarit since August and Jalisco since September; peppers from Culiacan started by late January, Quon said.

Big football games ignite sales of avocados out of Mexico, agreed Dante Galeazzi, president and CEO of the Mission-based Texas International Produce Association.

“Avocados for sure get a lot of attention this time of year,” he said before the New England Patriots’ 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams Feb. 3. 

He added that retailers were “getting their Super Bowl promotions together” well ahead of the annual NFL championship game, “and that means lots of avocados, tomatoes and chili peppers.”

Tampico onions are another item that were getting attention, as well, Galeazzi said.

“Through all of fall, the U.S. markets have had storage-crop onions; the fresh onions from Mexico are usually an attractive item at the start of the year, with the Texas-grown onions right behind them.”

Among arrivals at the Port of Nogales, Ariz., tomatoes dominate the winter months, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

“Tomatoes are always the No. 1 draw for Nogales, but we continue to see strong attention paid to cucumbers, bell peppers, squash and melons, not to mention eggplant,” he said.

While some items tend to be top-of-mind, big volumes of countless other items are available through the winter and should sell briskly, said Jerry Havel, sales and marketing director with Nogales-based Fresh Farms.

“Going forward, we look to have enough volume to get us into March before the spring crop starts,” he said. 

“Both the quality and the volume will be strong enough to promote in late January and all of February.” 

Crops that can be promoted from Fresh Farms include zucchini, cucumbers, English cucumbers, sweet corn, green bell peppers, colored bell peppers, eggplant, hard squashes and green beans, Havel said.

Hot chili peppers are among the big wintertime items for Edinburg, Texas-based Frontera Produce Ltd., said Trevor Stuart, account manager.

“For us, your hot chili peppers and limes get the most attention from us this time of year,” he said. “Mangoes really don’t pick up steam until April-May.”

Tomatoes always pick up momentum in the winter for Vero Beach, Fla.-based Greenhouse Produce Co. LLC, said Fried DeSchouwer, president.

“Normally, we have a lot of tomatoes and that seems to be just like last year,” he said. 

“January and February were very good months price-wise. But then again, the floodgates were opened in late March and April, with production in a lot of areas.”

 
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