Florida Spring Produce Report

Excerpt from an article in 2/1/18  Produce Business written by 

In March, April and May, the Sunshine State casts a towering shadow.

While starfruit season closes in April and doesn’t return until July, May marks the beginning of items such as Florida-grown dragon fruit, lychees and passionfruit, according to Mary Ostlund, marketing director for Brooks Tropicals, in Homestead, FL. “Supplies are limited, but there are no limits on color, textures and great taste. That said, the two biggest tips for enticing retail customers to try Florida tropicals is to sign displays well and add slices to fresh-cut fruit programs. Also, on display, it’s important to show the insides of these fruits.”


Consumers can’t seem‭ ‬to get enough of this healthy‭, ‬versatile fruit‭.‬

Brooks Tropicals’ Ostlund says giving consumers new ways to use avocados also helps inspire purchases in consumers who were unsure beforehand. Making avocado sauces and salsa to put on salads and proteins is a great place to start, “topping or tossing recipes with avocados are on trend.” She recommends a Slimcado cilantro topping (fresh ginger, cilantro, lime, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and sugar) for roasted chicken.


Tropical storm Gordon expected to clear fast

Excerpt from an article by Marieke Hemmes in Fresh Plaza 9/5/2018

“Tropical Storm Gordon came through Homestead and Miami-Dade County Sunday night into Monday morning,” says Peter Leifermann with Brooks Tropicals. “It dumped about six inches of rain on us, and due to the wind gusts we couldn’t harvest for one day, but it has cleared up and we’re back to normal. Thankfully, it wasn’t anything more than a quick storm for us.”


Hurricane nips SlimCado avocado volume

Brooks Tropicals avocado volume has been down this season due to Hurricane Irma, which damaged groves in September 2017. ( Courtesy Brooks Tropicals )

Last year’s Hurricane Irma has put a dent in the supply of Slimcados marketed by Brooks Tropicals Inc. this season, but things could be worse, said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for the Homestead, Fla.-based company.

The hurricane, which made landfall in Florida last September, caused some damage to the large, green-skin avocados, “but the damage was less than what we thought,” Ostlund said.

“We’ve been very happy with our harvest,” she said. “It’s exceeded our expectations after the storm.”

The hurricane will impact volume, she said in late July, but it was too early in the season to tell how much fruit will be lost.

“We’re seeing flowers, and where there are flowers, there is going to be fruit,” she said.

Brooks Tropicals started shipping Slimcados in late May, as usual.

“Quality is excellent,” she said. “It looks like it will be a good year, but it will be lower volume.”

She said it was hard to say for sure whether prices would rise.

“Right now, we don’t expect it to impact pricing,” she said.

The company typically ships Slimcados from Florida until early March and also sources from the Dominican Republic almost year-round.


Local food still has big draw

New studies report local food continues to have a strong grip on U.S. consumers.

In a consumer survey, Market Force Information reported in June that 58% of shoppers said locally sourced meat, produce and dairy products were important to them.

Meeting the demand

Produce marketers say they make business decisions in response to the trend.

For Brooks Tropicals, Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for the Homestead, Fla.-based company, said the appeal of local can sometimes extend to “USA grown” for consumers.

“I find most consumers are willing to expand what they consider locally grown if the fruits or veggies just can’t be grown where they live,” Ostlund said.

If consumers can’t find local production, she said they can still be enthusiastic about U.S. grown produce.

“Especially with tropicals like star fruit, passion fruit, dragon fruit, (consumers) are willing to expand the definition of local,” she said.

“It’s a good value to them that its domestic.”

Ostlund said retailers can help prompt the consumer demand by creating displays of locally grown or U.S. grown items.

Ostlund said Brooks Tropicals is now enjoying the height of domestic season tropical fruit, including avocados, star fruit, dragon fruit and guavas. Passion fruit harvest will expand in September, she said.