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Strong year for Honduran summer squash in the US
Summer squash grown in Honduras has seen a strong uptake this year, with growers and importers experiencing high demand for their products. One of the reasons is that produce imports from Mexico into the United States have faced a number of challenges in the last few months. Cold and wet weather have hampered production in many regions and freight rates continue to make shipments from Texas and Nogales into all corners of the United States very costly, almost prohibitively so.
Continental Fresh, a shipper and importer based in Florida, have been importing vegetables from Honduras for over 10 years. From December to late March, the company imports zucchini, cucumbers and 5 other types of squash from growers in Honduras. They said the market for their products has been very good this year.
"Markets for summer and winter squash have been very strong this year," said Albert Perez, of Continental Fresh. "The cold snaps in Mexico and Florida meant production has been slow in those regions. The issues surrounding trucking and freight have resulted in very high costs for produce from Mexico. A lot of customers, especially on the East Coast, have been relying on Honduran produce due to this very issue. It's good for us because last year the situation was quite different when we experienced an oversupply and a subsequently weaker market."
Relationship with growers important
Continental Fresh have always had a Honduran program since their inception. Perez said he was able to establish strong relationships with growers during the lengthy amount of time he spent there earlier in his career.
"When I began my career, I got my start in Central America because I spoke Spanish," he said. "I worked in Honduras for a long time and was able to establish lasting and trusted relationships with growers there, some of which I have worked with now for over 30 years. Continental Fresh are now the largest grower and importer of vegetables from Honduras in the United States. Our relationships with growers ensure we can deliver consistently high quality produce under our Atlas Fresh brand."
Trellis system working well for cucumbers
All of the zucchini, cucumbers and other squash products the company imports are grown in the open field. Additionally, all of their cucumbers are "pole-grown", which means they are grown on a trellis system. According to Continental Fresh, this method serves to improve the quality of the cucumbers.
"By growing the cucumbers on the trellis, they remain green all through the cucumber," Perez said. "In other regions, where they are grown traditionally on the ground, the part of the cucumber that lies on the surface tends to yellow. It enables us to deliver the best quality product we can to our customers. As a result, we have many customers who are familiar with our products and consider us to be the premier producer from Honduras."
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