On a more positive note, in addition to the Sunshine State’s continued dominance of citrus production (despite the scourge of the Asian citrus psyllid), Florida also takes first place in production value for snap beans, sweet corn, watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes, squash, and sugarcane. The state also ranks second in overall U.S. vegetable and melon production ($1.67 billion), tomatoes ($268 million), and strawberries ($201 million).
As foreign trade surges in South Florida, Miami produce businesses reap the benefits. At the state level, fruits and vegetables are always among Florida’s top agricultural exports, and the state continues to be a leader in grapefruit exports as well as oranges, orange juice, strawberries, blueberries, and watermelon. Some of Florida’s fastest growing exports are tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and snap beans.
In 2013, the Sunshine State’s agricultural exports jumped by 2 percent to $4.1 billion, generating a total economic impact of more than $13 billion and supporting more than 108,000 jobs, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
In 2013, total trade through Miami International Airport and PortMiami was $93.1 billion, including $41.4 billion in imports and $51.7 billion in exports, according to Miami-Dade’s Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources.
South America is by far the most important trading partner for Miami-Dade, and exports to the world’s fourth largest continent rose 7 percent in the last year. In 2013, the county’s trade with South America stood at $40.6 billion, accounting for 44 percent of all trade through Miami-Dade ports. The total value of Miami-Dade’s trade with Central America and the Caribbean, the county’s second largest trading region, was $23.1 billion.
These global trading partnerships are the lifeblood for Miami produce importers and exporters.
“As consumers in South Florida become more familiar with exotic flavors and are more open to trying new items, continuous and year-round supply from various parts of the world has become extremely important,” Jost explains.
Frank A. Ramos, president of The Perishable Specialist, Inc., a licensed customs broker in Miami, says the fruit and vegetables they clear for clients arrive primarily from Central and South America, the Netherlands, and some European countries.
The late fall months find the brokerage busy with the start of the Argentinian blueberry season, the peak of the blackberry season from Guatemala, along with substantial and consistent volume of asparagus from Peru, and the onset of Brazil’s mango season. All this coincides with “gearing up for the Chilean blueberry season,” Ramos says.