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Impressive imports invigorate Miami

One of the most exciting things about South Florida’s produce industry is the seemingly endless surge in imports.

“Every year, perishable commodities seem to be higher than previous years,” says Frank A. Ramos, president of customs broker, The Perishable Specialist Inc., which he co-owns with his wife Ana.

Doug Tannehill, president of exporter Global Perishable Services LLP, Miami, attributes this exciting growth to an “increased awareness of health and well-being. As long as people continue trying to eat fresh, it keeps the produce business growing, both for the local and island growers.”

During the late summer months, Ramos marvels at the blueberry shipments arriving from Argentina, and then Chile, which continue to climb.

And then there’s asparagus from Peru: “Peruvian asparagus is cranking up as a year-round commodity. Volume continues to go up and up—there’s been no down drop,” he says.

For Marc Holbik, president of Ecoripe Tropicals Inc., Miami, as summer winds down, he says the supplier finds itself in the “middle of our rambutan season, with the majority of the volume arriving from Guatemala, and supplemented with production from Costa Rica and Honduras.”

In the meantime, there are Haitian and Dominican mangos, before transitioning to Ecuador.

“From Costa Rica, we also carry golden pineapples year round, and from Honduras our okra is year round, with heavy volume starting in late November,” says Holbik.

Brooks Tropicals also sources an expanding lineup of fruits and vegetables from international growers, including papaya and ginger from the supplier’s own farms in Brazil.

Caribbean Red papaya, which Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Brooks Tropicals LLC, Homestead, FL, sees as an important mainstream player, arrives from the Dominican Republic.

Additionally, she says, “Costa Rica plays an important role in supplying our calabaza, chayote, and root veggies like yuca, malanga, and eddo [also called yautia, and similar to taro], and limes head into Miami from Mexico and Guatemala.”

Surprisingly, imports often arrive in Miami more quickly than produce grown in other states.

“With many growing regions in Central America and the Caribbean islands closer to us than California, Miami enjoys a diversity of fresh produce imports,” Holbik says.

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full article.