Miami relishes trend-setter status

Year after year, fresh produce imports into South Florida continue to climb.

These including “hot” or increasingly popular commodities like asparagus, citrus, blueberries, grapes, cucumbers, peppers, melons, and all manner of tropical items, according to Patricia Compres, president and CEO of Advance Customs Brokers & Consulting LLC BB #:289411.

As a wider variety of perishables floods into the Miami market, South Florida importers are booming with plenty of business to go around.

Tulio Garcia, president of Miami Agro Import, Inc., BB #:160682 a family-owned, third-generation Guatemalan grower-shipper and importer, has seen increased demand across the company’s entire product line, which includes both fresh and frozen items.

Miami Agro handles conventional and organic French beans, sugar snaps, snow peas, shelled English peas, peeled baby carrots, baby squashes, broccoli, cauliflower, and radicchio.

“We also just started growing and importing a special cauliflorini (a new sweet and tender cauliflower item), organic fancy zucchini, and a tender baby broccoli stem,” he adds.

Frank A. Ramos, president of The Perishable Specialist, Inc., BB #:168353 a Miami customs broker specializing in fruits and vegetables, and his wife Ana, are celebrating the company’s 17th anniversary.

Ramos says the business is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year operation. “We’re busy year-round, but the season kicks up a notch starting in September and gradually keeps getting busier until we reach the peak, which is the Thanksgiving rush.”

During the late summer months, Ramos says a surge of blueberries arrives from Argentina and Uruguay and later from Chile and Peru. Around the same time, there are massive shipments of asparagus coming in from Peru. There are also year-round imports of snow peas, sugar snaps, mini vegetables, and blackberries from Guatemala.

Rosann Cabrera, owner of Bayshore Produce, LLC, BB #:263431 a produce buyer/broker and import/export business based in Miami, agrees that all fresh produce imports continue to sell well, especially berries and avocados.

She says Bayshore Produce has built strong relationships with growers in Chile, the main source for the company’s fruit imports during the season.

When Ecoripe Tropicals BB #:171219 winds down its local summer fruit programs, Marc Holbik, CEO of the grower-shipper and importer based in Medley, says the company starts to focus on offshore programs for the fall and winter months.

“Our Honduran okra program swings into high season at the end of the year and the start of the new year,” he says. “In the fall, we also begin our South American mango season, starting with Ecuador and moving on to Peru further into the season.”

This is multi-part feature on the South Florida produce industry adapted from the January/February 2020 issue of Produce Blueprints.