Sparkling starfruit spring water now at Trader Joe’s

Tropical fruit sighting at Trader Joe’s, a sparkling spring water with a starfruit flavor.

Thanks to Pal for the photo.


Florida growers catching up after delays due to Irma

Article in the 12/4/17 Packer, written by Ashley Nickle

Homestead-based Brooks Tropicals also reported that its winter season, which includes star fruit and passion fruit, had been affected by Irma.

“We’re excited about the season for these fruits, but unfortunately the impact of Hurricane Irma has meant a much smaller crop,” director of sales Peter Leifermann said in early December.


Central American Imports – what’s new

U.S. demand for “contra seasonal” fruits and vegetables drives up imports.

Article in the 11/17 Produce Business issue written by Carol Bareuther

“As winter availability of North American produce becomes scarce, large front-of-store displays of items such as Caribbean Red papaya are a colorful way to light up dreary winter days,” says Peter Leifermann, director of sales for Brooks Tropicals

“For other fruits, simply building a display and putting these tropical items in the spotlight helps to remind consumers of their availability, attractiveness and delicious taste,” says Leifermann.

“Our fall and winter availability is overall very good. Promotions run nearly every month. Giving you the ability to manage a 2-week ad window. Although we often have enough availability to cover last-minute decisions or emergencies.”

“Chinese New Year is a big draw for Caribbean Red papayas as well as ginger and eddos from Costa Rica,” says Liefermann.


Ethnic produce popularity continues to rise

As the population of international cultures increases throughout the U.S., so does the knowledge and appreciation of their unique produce.

“It’s growing, every single item is growing,” said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals Inc.

“These fruits and veggies may have been introduced by others with native cuisines from afar, but sales are growing and growing beyond ethnic demographics.”


Other items that are trending with consumers right now are star fruit, red guava, Thai guava, dragon fruit, lychees and longans, Ostlund said. Brooks Tropicals grows these items in southern Miami-Dade County.

“Star fruit has grown beyond top garnish status,” she said. “Its slices are starring in salads both leafy and fruity.”

She added that certain specialties have devoted followers, causing curious consumers to try something new.

Millennials and social media also help to shed light on these items trying to break out of their niche.

Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are platforms for sharing new and different fruits and vegetables with a wider audience, Ostlund said, adding that Twitter can be used as a discussion board to ask questions.

“Brooks Tropicals has social media posts on specialties that can be (adapted) for retail, wholesale and foodservice use,” she said.

Winter promos

If there is one thing that most marketers can agree on it’s that during the cold months of winter, tropical, international and specialty items shine and bring a little warmth to the produce department.


Ostlund said “funny-looking fruit draws attention.” She suggests retailers use signs to their advantage to drive sales.

“Signage showing these fruits’ beautiful but unusual insides draws the curious to reading more,” Ostlund said.

Good signs draw the shoppers in, but offering samples of the produce can complete the sale.