Seasoned produce professional Lloyd Rosen joined M&M Tropicals in
Homestead, FL, March 1. Previously with William Manis Produce Marketing in
Plant City, FL, Mr. Rosen has nearly 40 years of experience in the produce
"I had been watching M&M for a while and enjoying its growth and its
involvement in taking its Latin product line into the Anglo-American
marketplace," said Mr. Rosen. "The company is strong in marketing,
merchandising and in broadening its customer list to accommodate the
growing influence that the Latin community is exerting."
Mr. Rosen added that Manuel (Manny) Hevia Jr., co-owner of the firm, is the
second generation to operate the company. He has a thought process that is
strongly geared toward how influential the Latin line of produce is becoming.
"It made sense for us to come together to share our perspective and
awareness of how produce departments can evolve and take advantage of the
growing Latin trend," said Mr. Rosen.
Mr. Rosen's responsibilities in his new position include accommodating
packaging to satisfy the Anglo market with Latin produce. He will also help
the company continue in its food-safety and traceability initiatives. "A lot of
our products come from other countries, so we are always thinking about
safety and how to continue making it a priority," said Mr. Rosen. "We're
building our program aggressively so we can tell our customers that we are
fully subscribed and committed to food safety and traceability."
With Mr. Hevia's Latin background and expertise at the field level and Mr.
Rosen's marketing know-how, a powerful team has been established to
create a comfort zone at the customer level through understanding what they
want and how to satisfy their desires for an Anglo flair.
"The reason some stores handle only a small amount of Latin produce is
because they don't know how to create a full line," said Mr. Rosen. "M&M's
goal is to help these produce professionals build their lines in ways that will
M&M is broadening its sales force dramatically to help it reach its goals. It
also plans to become involved in value-added packaging, which Mr. Rosen
said will help at the retail level. He noted how some Latin items are quickly
becoming mainstream at retail.
"There was a time when a bagel was considered an ethnic Jewish item and
pizza was Italian," he pointed out. "Today, you can find bagels in just about
every coffee shop, and pizza is as American as apple pie. Latin produce is
now going through the same metamorphosis. Produce buyers make the
decision on how large their lines of Latin, Chinese, premium or conventional
will [be]. As the economics of running a supermarket change, there are fewer
buyers with experience about what to buy. They are wise to turn to their
suppliers to help guide them in how to increase their profits in these
M&M is working with customers to help them build their Latin lines. Going
forward, the company plans to conduct product demos at the retail level. Mr.
Rosen said that consumers cannot be expected to buy Latin items with which
they are not familiar unless they taste them.
"With Latin root vegetables, there are several products, such as yucca,
malanga and boniato," he said. "When consumers taste them, they realize the
unique flavor each has to offer. Besides demos and offering more value-
added items like wrapped microwave-ready roots, we also plan on getting
involved in recipes and consumer information."
Mr. Rosen explained that different ethnic groups eat the same items, but they
know them by different names. By identifying the customer, retailers can
better market these products in ways that make them familiar.
In the few weeks he has been with M&M Tropicals, Mr. Rosen has observed
how strongly the company is focused on quality and on doing everything
"The people at M&M conduct themselves in a highly professional manner at
all times and in all aspects of the business," he said. "The esprit de corps is
exemplary. Everyone is pulling in the same direction -- and doing it willingly
and happily. It's an outstanding environment."
M&M Tropicals handles a full line of Latin and tropical root vegetables and
fruits. Its customers include wholesalers, retailers and foodservice operators.
It distributes nationwide under the "M&M Tropicals" brand.