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J&C Tropicals touts Florida mangos

J&C Tropicals in Miami expects to sell significantly more mangos this year over last year, due both to an increase in its Mexican supplies and the increased popularity of its locally grown Florida mangos.

Jeanette Rodriguez, the company’s vice president of marketing, said that the locally grown program is sponsored by Publix Super Markets Inc. in Lakeland, FL, and is a big boost for the growers of tropical fruits and vegetables in south Florida. Called the Redland Raised program, Publix promotes the crops grown in the agricultural area in Florida’s southern Dade County. Ms. Rodriguez said that it has been a big boost to local growers and has helped revive the Florida mango industry. She said that foreign competition was driving local growers out of business, but with the help of Publix, it has become profitable once again to grow and pack Florida fruits and vegetables.

“Last year, we were able to identify success at the store level,” she said. “This year, we are expecting to see an even bigger increase and are very excited about it.”

The program includes many traditional local products such as tomatoes, corn and squash, as well as other tropical offerings provided by J&C such as lychee and boniato.

J&C naturally has many customers, and with Publix taking most of the company’s Florida-grown mangos, the firm also sources from other locations, with Mexico and Haiti being J&C’s top supplying regions for mangos.

Ms. Rodriguez said that J&C has increased its Mexican supplies by about 50 percent this year to better serve its customers, despite cold spring weather that actually limited some of its traditional sources of supply. Though she said this year has been a challenging marketing season because of an oversupply of Ecuadorian fruit and a bunching up of fruit from Guatemala and Peru, the J&C executive noted, “Demand is usually strong in the summer, and we expect it to remain the same. Pricing will be good and should allow retailers to place some nice promotions at store level.”

Mangos are one of J&C’s top items, especially in the summer months when demand for other commodities wanes a bit. “Mangos are very important to us and represent a large part of our business,” she said. “They complement our sales nicely during the hot summer months when our other large product line (roots) tends to slow down. They are an integral part of our product line.”

She added that mango sales help drive sales of other tropical items including lychee, sapodilla and mamey.

Mango consumption has been on a growth curve over the last several years, and the executives at J&C expect that to continue. Ms. Rodriguez credited the National Mango Board as well as the increase in Hispanics among the U.S. population for driving sales, and she expects the increased consumption trend to continue.