The value-added and branded product line marketed by Southern Specialties
Inc. has garnered solid acceptance by consumers and the trade, according to
Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for the Pompano Beach,
"We have been more involved in private labeling than we ever had in the past
and, in spite of the economic conditions, it appears the specialty items are
still very relevant," Mr. Eagle said. “That may be because there are more
homemakers that are not going out to eat as much, but, still, they want
quality and unique products when they entertain. We provide those products.
Homemakers can buy the same products they saw at foodservice for several
years and prepare them at home.”
Southern Specialties markets its “Southern Selects,” “Paradise Tropicals,”
“Fiesta Fresh” and “Today's Gourmet” line of products from distribution
facilities in Pompano Beach, McAllen, TX, and Los Angeles.
Southern Specialties handles sno peas, sugar snaps, English peas, French
beans, baby vegetables — such as baby squash and baby carrots — radicchio,
leeks and other specialty items. The firm also markets limes, papayas and
mangos in different times of the year, Mr. Eagle said.
Southern Specialties’ products “supply our retail, foodservice and wholesale
customers’ needs.” Those items also go to value-added programs for retailers
and club stores and are sold on contract to processing companies.
Guatemala is the primary product source for Southern Specialties.
Guatemala’s many microclimates provide produce 12 months a year for
Southern Specialties. “The peak season for much of the Guatemalan product
starts in November and runs through the winter months, but we are a 12-
He added that, beyond Guatemala, “We import mangos from Ecuador and
papayas from Belize.”
Mr. Eagle said, “We have been heavily involved in the Central American deal
since our inception 20 years ago. We have quality-assured fields and
facilities. We have a broad network of growers. And we identified logistics
synergies that allowed us to create a lot of successes. We have freight
contracts that are advantageous to us. We have our own freight company — a
trucking company that is set up to retrieve our product at the port.”
Mr. Eagle said of Southern Specialties, “Business is pretty good. It could
always be better, but we have had a decent year.” Last year ended “on a
positive side and we are looking forward to a really good 2011.”
Late in 2010 the firm hired Daryl Johnston to fill the newly created position of
vice president of sales. Mr. Johnston is involved in the firm’s strategic
planning and oversees all facets of the sales part of the organization.
Mr. Johnston worked for 11 years at Dole Fresh Vegetables “and had
significant value-added experience in the produce industry with both retail
and foodservice companies as customers,” Mr. Eagle said.