Eddie Caram, general manager of New Limeco LLC in Princeton, FL, knows consumers are focused on food safety now more than ever. While consumer concerns about foodborne illnesses have grown in recent years, problems like the recent European E. coli and U.S. listeria outbreaks have only heightened that awareness.
That is why food safety is at the top of the priority pyramid at New Limeco.
Since being purchased in 2001 by Alcides Acosta, New Limeco LLC has grown steadily and is now one of Florida’s larger full-line tropical fruit and vegetable growers and shippers, focusing on avocados, limes, mangos, papayas, Florida-grown tropical fruits, and tropical fruits and vegetables from South America and Central America and the Caribbean.
Mr. Caram has been with the company from the beginning. Originally serving as director of sales and marketing, he became general manager in 2009 and immediately made food safety New Limeco’s top priority.
Recently, New Limeco added a new team member, Jorge Leon, to specifically deal with food safety as operations supervisor and food-safety and quality-control coordinator.
“Probably 80 percent of the fruit we pack is owned by the Acosta family, so we know where our fruit comes from, especially here in South Florida. Mr. Acosta has been one of Florida’s main avocado growers for over 35 years,” Mr. Caram said.
The company’s Florida packing facilities are third-party audited and certified, earning almost perfect scores. Last year, the company had its first third-party field audit; its 750 acres of south Florida avocados were first to undergo inspection and the rest of its fields followed.
“We’re doing things correctly to be able to provide what the consumer and the chain stores need,” Mr. Caram said. “That’s the big star of what we’re doing right now in Florida.”
New Limeco is working through its Florida avocado crop and demand has been good. The company also partners with growers in Belize and Guatemala to source papayas, and that move has yielded dividends.
“Papaya has been a really good item for us. We’ve grown with it and we take a lot of pride in growing it. It’s starting to pay off,” Mr. Caram said.
The company is also partnered with a GlobalGAP- and Primus-certified Mexican grower to exclusively produce its namesake limes under the “San Gabriel” label “and that’s also helped us increase our business immensely,” Mr. Caram said.
New Limeco is paying the same close attention to food safety and traceability with its foreign partners as it does to its domestic operations. “Working with growers offshore that are GlobalGAP or certified with some sort of traceability has really helped us,” Mr. Caram said. “New Limeco has focused on only working with growers who are willing to invest and grow with what the American consumer needs.”
New Limeco’s focus on safety “is expensive, but we are getting this done without cutting any corners when it comes to quality and traceability,” Mr. Caram said. “We’re willing to spend money to do things right for the future, to grow with what’s coming — we want to be that one step ahead.”