Founded about five years ago, and already a well-known progressive and vibrant company, Vega Produce, headquartered in Doral, FL, just on the west side of the Miami International Airport, has announced that on Jan. 15 it hired long-time produce veteran, Lloyd Rosen as its sales manager.
Rosen’s career highlights include serving as vice president of Tobi Produce, which was then called David Oppenheimer & Co., in Tampa. The company’s expertise was in importing Chilean fruit. He then moved on to William Manis Co. in Plant City, FL, shipping strawberries, Florida vegetables and imported produce throughout the Northeast and Midwest. His extensive background makes him a perfect fit for Vega Produce, which specializes in both domestic and offshore produce
“I’ll be supervising a staff seven strong, including an Asian-speaking salesperson and a sales representative in Spain who services our Spanish accounts,” he said. “We sell our products throughout the entire European continent, and we distribute in North America.”
Rosen will also be helping the company to create new packaging and handling direct sales efforts toward retail, foodservice and big box store types of customers.
“Vega is comprised of family member farms,” he said. “The company recently bought 1,000-hectares in the Dominican Republic for zucchini, gray and yellow squash production. The first shipments arrived just this week. We are also engaged in negotiations with client partners to grow product for them.”
The company also produces fresh produce in Guatemala and Honduras, which include baby vegetables, Asian vegetables and East Indian vegetables in these countries.
Vega Produce is also right on target when it comes to its foodsafety initiatives. Its new facility recently received a superior score in its Primus GFS packinghouse audit.
The company’s location also puts it in an outstanding position for receiving produce, which will improve even more once the tunnel that will connect air shipments to warehouses in Doral is completed. Rosen said produce will then reach Vega’s doors within 15 to 20 minutes.
The sophisticated facility has been upgraded with coordinating cooling racks that can accommodate a range of 25 to 35 trailer or ocean containers of merchandise at a given time.
“We have also hired an agronomist from Chile who will check produce as it arrives here and report back to growers,” said Rosen. “This will help us to create solid guidelines that we can build on in the future.”
The company’s strategy is as strong as is its current momentum. Rosen said that its focus is on exerting its efforts to create retail packaging for consumers, such as microwavable packs for big box stores, and to accommodate larger units of measure. For foodservice clients, Vega is currently working on specialty sampler assortment packages in volume amounts that they need.
“We are also a major player and have expanded our volume of snow peas and sugar snap peas for this year,” Rosen added. “And we’re expanding our presence and plantings with Oriental produce in Honduras, such as Chinese eggplant, Chinese bitter melon, Chinese okra, Indian eggplant, Indian bitter melon, Thai eggplant, Thai okra, long squash, ginger, and chive flowers.”
The company’s mix of staff cultures makes for an interesting education on specialty produce for them all. Rosen said that each of its five domestic sales staff members were creating a dish for a company lunch using one of the specialty items that are somewhat unusual to mainstream Americans.
“We are having a contest and the winning prize is dinner at a fine restaurant that serves Asian food,” he said.
“It is interesting to recall how American cuisine has changed through time,” he continued. “When G.I.s returned to the U.S. from Europe after WWII, they came back with a taste for something called pizza, which was literally unknown at the time. Bagels are another example. Today most American enjoy both of these foods on a regular basis.”
Rosen said that he believes that the Southeast Produce Council is an important part of Vega Produce’s stewardship and its identity, and so it needs a sense of the organization.
“We plan on exploring involvement with the organization going forward,” he said.