Premium Quality Since 1928
J.R. Brooks knew he had a better way to pack and ship tropical produce. And to prove this point, he rode a boxcar filled with his freshly grown Florida green-skinned avocados from Homestead, Florida to market in New York City.
That was 1928.
Today the company is headed up by his son, CEO Neal Palmer (Pal) Brooks and President Greg Smith.
The firm has built a reputation as a premier supplier of tropical fruits and vegetables across North America.
Key to this competitive edge is Brooks Tropicals’ capability to harvest over 70% of what the firm sells, specializing in Caribbean Red and Caribbean Sunrise papayas, SlimCado avocados, starfruit or carambola, Persian limes and Uniq Fruit.
Brooks manages over 6,000 acres. In southern Florida, the company grows SlimCado avocados and starfruit. In Belize the company grows and packs their Caribbean Red and Caribbean Sunrise papayas.
In Belize and in Florida, Brooks’ packing and cold storage facilities have repeatedly received outstanding marks in food safety from a leading third party auditor.
Disasters Can Be Beneficial
Two disasters – one natural, one man-made – provided the impetus for Brooks Tropicals to be what it is today.
The first, Hurricane Andrew in 1992, literally blew over eighty percent of the avocado trees in south Miami-Dade county.
One of Brooks’ largest crops was in danger of never coming back. With plenty of hard work, the downed trees were righted and replanted.
Brooks is back to pre-Andrew avocado capacity and has become the largest grower, packer and shipper of Florida avocados.
The second disaster wasn’t a hurricane but an eradication program meant to contain a disease – citrus canker. The enforcement of this federal government program, which required cutting down any citrus tree within 1,900 feet of an infected one, proved disastrous for Brooks. Before canker, the firm grew eighty-one percent of the country’s Persian limes. Today Brooks Tropicals’ limes are grown and packed in Mexico to the company’s exacting specifications.
With both Hurricane Andrew and citrus canker, Brooks Tropicals was down but not out. Confident that the company would recover, Pal Brooks did, however, see the need to diversify – geographically.
A bold step was taken. Starting with two full-time workers and thirty acres, and working closely with the Central American government of Belize, Brooks Tropicals started growing papayas, doubling the acreage every fifteen months and nearly doubling production every year for ten years.
The boldness has paid off. Brooks Tropicals is now the largest importer of papayas to the US and Canada. Working with retailers, Brooks has also played a major role in mainstreaming this fruit outside of Hispanic and Asian markets.
Brooks also expanded operations to an island environment on the west coast of Florida, where the perfect soil was found for growing starfruit. Brooks Tropicals has helped pave the way for the American adoption of this fruit.
Geographic diversification doesn’t mean trouble is entirely avoided. In August of 2007 Hurricane Dean – a category five hurricane- made landfall near our papaya operations in Belize. With 70% of the fields damaged, a ninety member clean-up crew was immediately sent out to the fields. Replanting with nursery stock started one week after the storm. Construction on the new headquarters buildings quickly resumed. Although seriously impacted, Brooks came back fast and strong.
Bringing Tropical Produce to Your Dinner Table
The company’s reputation for quality tropical fruits and vegetables keeps Brooks ahead of the pack. Backing this reputation is Brooks Tropicals’ firm belief in research and development which has produced several revolutionary achievements over the past thirty years that help bring tropical produce to the market in top condition for the enjoyment of the North American consumer.