In mid-January, Michael Warren, president of Central American Produce in Pompano Beach, FL, told The Produce News that the company was currently importing papaya, green onions, leeks, radicchio and bunched radishes from Guatemala.
“Our okra program from Honduras is also running,” said Warren. “Cantaloupes, honeydew melons, seedless watermelons, specialty melons, butternut squash, spaghetti squash and acorn squash are coming in from both Guatemala and Honduras.”
Central American is also moving pineapples from Costa Rica.
“Our mangos are currently coming from Peru, but starting in February we will switch to Nicaragua,” Warren added. “In March, we transition our mango supplies to Guatemala and Mexico.”
Throughout the company’s history, which began in 1976 when Warren’s father, David N. Warren, founded the firm, Central American Produce has been well known for its vegetable line.
Its year-round program includes green onions, leeks, radicchio, fresh bunch radishes and more.
“Our vegetable line is sold under our ‘M&S’ brand,” said Warren. “It has a very strong following, and it’s known as a solid and dependable category for our company.”
Central American goes to where product is being produced in order to keep its customers supplied, however a few items are seasonal, such as melons, squash and okra, which are winter and spring programs. The rest of the company’s lineup is available year- round.
Warren noted that offshore programs this season have been stronger than normal on mangos, squash and melons.
“Currently, markets on many items are higher than expected, due in part to cooler weather in Central America and Mexico,” he said. “We are most pleased with the increased interest in our hard squash line and seedless watermelon program. Grown on our own farms in Guatemala, the unique growing conditions produce an enhanced flavor and deeper flesh color in the items we grow.
“We are also seeing notable year-over-year increases in demand for hard squash because of its many health benefits,” he added.
Heading into the next couple of months, Central American will be at peak production on hard squash, seedless watermelons, mangos and honeydew melons. In late March, it will see an increase on cantaloupes — “just in time for the Easter push,” Warren pointed out.
The company has also expanded its winter ports of entry into North America. In order to service its customers across the United States regionally and into Canada, it has expanded its winter ports of entry into North America to include Norfolk, VA, Wilmington, DE, Los Angeles and southeast Florida.
“Our objective is to provide our customers with faster deliveries and outstanding overall service,” said Warren. “We are therefore taking advantage of numerous geographic locations for as many of our products as possible,” said Warren.
Central America Produce has a fully balanced clientele base.
“Although we are seeing an increase in processor business on the hard squash, mangos and watermelons, our customers are across the board and include all levels and sizes of retailers and foodservice clients,” he said.