“With very few exceptions, we’re in peak tropical form now. We’re hitting on nearly all cylinders which is great for the tropical category this time of year,” says Peter Leifermann with Brooks Tropicals LLC in Homestead, Fl. “And supplies are similar to last year.”
In terms of tropical commodities, domestically Brooks is working with the SlimCado tropical avocados which are grown in Florida and will be harvested into April. Also out of Florida, the Carambola season is winding down although Leifermann anticipates harvest to continue into March. And the Florida passion fruit crop continues steadily with a “second peak” expected to last through March.
Out of the Dominican Republic, the Semil variety of the Dominican’s SlimCado season is ending although Leifermann adds that the Carla variety is coming on strong. And the Groovy Coconut supplies also from the Dominican are also strong enough to support the coming spring holidays including Easter, Passover and Mother’s Day says Leifermann.
SlimCados to be harvested into April.
Out of Guatemala, the Caribbean Red Papaya supply is back to normal says Leifermann with moderate supplies while the Jamaican Uniq Fruit crop is strong once again this year with promotional opportunities through March. “And the Persian Lime supply from Guatemala and Colombia will sustain relatively limited Mexican supplies into May,” says Leifermann. Meanwhile Ecuador is bridging the gap on Dragon Fruit supplies until Florida starts up its crop in June.
As for Brazil, ginger is slimmer on supplies. “Brazil ginger is limited to weekly air shipments as we anticipate the new crop late spring,” says Leifermann. “And Brazilian Solo Papayas are about to come on even stronger with promotional availability after the Carnival week which is pretty much Feb. 21st-Feb. 26th,” he says.
Leifermann says it embraces supplies from a variety of regions. “That being said, Mexico is getting better and better at what they’re doing every day,” he adds.
Passion fruit will have a "second peak."
In terms of demand for the variety of tropical fruit available, Leifermann notes he sees a continued maturation of demand in retail for these kinds of commodities. “Especially in Texas and the Southwest,” he says. “As menus are rewritten for the summer, we expect foodservice to keep pleasantly surprising us. Tropical fruit consumption has really been given a shot in the arm by the popularity of social media. Our expectation is that this digitally fueled trend will continue.”
That said, he does note that prices are expected to adjust upwards along with the rising costs in supplies, labor and operations.
This line of tropical fruit will certainly be discussed at Brooks Tropical’s booth at the upcoming Southern Exposure show in Tampa, Fl. Feb. 27-29.
“We love the SEPC show. It’s intimate and only a five-hour drive from our home in South Florida,” says Leifermann. “We always see most of our favorite customers at this show and it’s a nice bookend before the start of our heavy summer season.”
In fact, its proximity truly adds to the appeal of those working at Brooks. “We’re a relatively small company and we each have families with soccer and baseball practices and sometimes sales travel is tough to do as much as is needed,” says Leifermann. “With Southern Exposure, our customers are only a half-days’ drive away. We encourage them to arrange their travel so they can visit all of their suppliers--not just us--in South Florida.” Visit Brooks Tropicals at booth 636.