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A tropical produce paradise where trade sizzles

Miami, nicknamed the “Magic City,” is a tropical produce paradise. A little more than a century ago, this colorful metropolis seemed to appear out of thin air. Since then, the Miami metro area has grown from a mere 1,000 residents to more than 5.5 million.

Miami-Dade County, which spans more than 2,400 miles, is home to 2.6 million residents with Hispanics or Latinos representing nearly 67 percent of the population. More than half of the county’s residents are foreign-born. With such a diverse population, an ever-expanding port, and a strong focus on global economies, this vibrant city has quicklygrown into a critical hub of international trade—and a major player in the produce trade.

Miami-Dade isn’t the only South Florida area on the rise; neighboring counties are also booming. For example, Broward County’s population increased by 5.2 percent between 2010 and 2013 to more than 1.8 million residents. Monroe, Palm Beach, and Collier counties also continue to grow at a rapid pace.

“The South Florida marketplace continues to be a melting pot of cultures and backgrounds,” comments Dan Jost, southeast region general manager for Robinson Fresh in Miami. And this distinction is why it’s so important for the area’s suppliers to “offer this diverse group of consumers plenty of choices.”

Growing Trends
Thanks to the region’s tropical climate, year-round growing season, and colorful assortment of crops, South Florida’s agricultural industry is flourishing. Miami-Dade agriculture employs more than 20,000 people and produces more than $2.7 billion in economic impact each year.

Located about 20 miles southwest of downtown Miami, Redland is one of Florida’s most prominent growing regions. This area has become increasingly famous since the “Redland Raised” branding program launched in 2009 to promote locally grown produce throughout the state.

The Redland region and other growing areas throughout South Florida produce a cornucopia of tropical fruit—from mangos, carambola, passion fruit, and papaya to lychee, guava, dragon fruit, and plantains. With more than 12,000 acres in production, tropical fruit is an economic powerhouse for the entire state of Florida.

Miami-Dade County is also the primary production region for fresh-market snap beans, representing over 21,000 acres and 57 percent of the state’s crop. Production usually peaks in March and April, with ample supply well into May. Other major vegetables grown in the county include okra, cabbage, sweet corn, cucumber, eggplant, summer squash, bell peppers, and tomatoes.