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Continental Fresh concentrates on Brazilian mangos

Florida-based Continental Fresh is beginning its heaviest time of the year for mango supplies, and Managing Partner Albert Perez expects 2011 to be a carbon copy of 2010.

“Right now, we are importing 100 percent of our mangos from Brazil,” he said on Tuesday, Sept. 6. “That is our biggest program. At this point, it looks very similar to last year [in terms of volume]. We expanded our program with one grower and added a new label.” But he also said that overall volume should remain about the same for the firm, which operates from Coconut Grove, FL, because Continental Fresh is no longer working with one of last year’s growers.

“Suemi” and “Fino Fruits” are the two Brazil mango brands that Continental will represent this year. “‘Suemi’ is the label that we have expanded since last year. It has developed very well over the last several years and is clearly one of the top labels,” Mr. Perez said. “Fino Fruits is our new grower this year.”

Mr. Perez said that the difference between Continental Fresh its competitors is that “70 percent of what we do is with the top chains in the United States. Our business model is to do program-type business with the top chains. That is what we have concentrated on for the past 10 to 15 years, and it has worked very well for us.”

Though he has been in the mango business for many years, Mr. Perez established Continental Fresh five years ago to connect the fruit of the longtime grower partnership he had developed to his customer base of top retail chains.

Mr. Perez sees volume being very similar to last year and expects 2011 to be a very challenging year for Brazilian growers. “They have a higher cost of production this year than last, and there is an inferior exchange rate [with the United States],” he said.

Add in the increasing cost of ocean transportation and it will be a challenge to get higher f.o.b. prices for the fruit.

He said that the transportation costs of trucking the fruit from the East Coast to the rest of the country have also increased. “All the Brazilian fruit comes into the Northeast and has to be trucked across country, and that will be more expensive.”