Brooks Tropicals looks to expand its reach with consumers

With its name actually highlighting the tropical segment, Brooks Tropicals specializes in delivering a diverse array of tropical produce across the United States. Farming more than 4,000 acres, the Homestead, FL-based company harvests more than 70 percent of what its sells.

Twenty tropical fruits and vegetables are also imported into the North American market from 15 countries in Central and South America.

“I count three objectives for us as a company: providing tropical fruits and vegetables of native cuisines for many of our consumers; introducing this produce to anyone and everyone looking to eat healthier; and seducing the curious into trying the exotic tastes that tropicals deliver,” said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Brooks Tropicals. “I was born in the tropics and love sharing recipes and ideas with those who have known and loved these fruits and veggies their entire lives.”

Among its tropical offerings are avocados, papayas, starfruit, mangos, yam, pineapples and yucca. Brooks Tropicals has done extensive research on the nutritional quality of many of its tropical and it shares this info with culinary professionals and consumers across blogs, newsletters, websites and social media.

“We try to show that enjoying tropical fruits and veggies are not only delicious, but it is easy to add their tropical zest to any meal or snack,” Ostlund said. “It’s important to be bold. Big bold displays with informative signage is tops. Retailers should cut and package a sample to show their customers the gorgeous colors and potential tastes inside.”

Ostlund added that retailers should highlight the fact that tropicals are great for smoothies, and should create a smoothie station in the produce aisle, complete with papaya, red guava, dragonfruit and passionfruit. “The stars of the produce aisle, starfruit, have shined on some great sales this year,” she said. “Papaya consumers have become more label conscious making demand for Caribbean Red papaya strong.”

Overall, Brooks Tropicals is seeing steadily increasing overall sales in the category.

“Florida tropicals are a way to enjoy the tropics and buy domestic. Florida tropicals may not be ‘local’ to a lot of distant markets, but many consumers are willing to expand their definition of ‘local’ to include them,” Ostlund said. “Hurricane Irma did impact our Florida crops. Fortunately, recovery from the storm is almost complete with starfruit, passionfruit, red guava and dragonfruit coming back strong.”