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World Fresh Produce proceeding at a fast pace, with enthusiasm

World Fresh Produce was created in 2018. The Cherry Hill, NJ-based company may be a new guy on the fresh produce block, but it’s jam-packed with decades and even generations of experience. Founded by President Michel Matouk, citrus is currently the company’s primarily focus, and it also specializes in kiwi, persimmons, pears and other items. Its citrus fruits are shipped under the PureFect Fruit label.

Matouk, who is originally from Montreal, began working for his father-in-law, Joe Borsellino, in 2004 at Agri-Mondo, a successful Montreal-based import business. Borsellino operated that business for more than 20 years before merging with the Routhier family in 2018, creating Krops Imports. At that point, Matouk made the decision to embrace his entrepreneurial spirit and launched World Fresh Produce in the USA. Today, World Fresh is growing rapidly and distributing product throughout the eastern United States and Canada.NadorcottNadorcott mandarin from World Fresh Produce.

“Our line is produced offshore,” Matouk told The Produce News. “In early December 2018, Joe Aronica, a produce industry veteran with 25 years of experience as a director of produce sales, joined us as vice president of sales and business development. He has a clear understanding of what retailers need.”

Fast forward one year, and John Lazopoulos Jr. joined World Fresh Produce as vice president of operations. Lazopoulos has 40 years of experience working with leading citrus and other fruit companies. In his career he has specialized in the precise products that World Fresh Produce now handles, as well as those it plans to include in its line in the future.

World Fresh Produce is already a strong force in the industry with an impressive lineup of growing partners. “Franck Bellon, owner and director of BSB, an export firm headquartered in Marrakesh, is a shareholder in World Fresh Produce,” said Matouk. “He was a supplier to my father-in-law for 10 years. This is an ideal situation because we know each other and our cultures very well, and we share a clear understanding of how we want to see our company grow.”

BSB has a presence throughout Morocco, enabling the company to handle only the highest quality of each product according to the soil and climate of where they grow. It functions as a packer and exporter. Bellon has been collaborating with Matouk since before World Fresh Produce’s inception.

Bellon described BSB’s export program on behalf of World Fresh Produce by noting, “We pack clementines from October through the end of November. We handle Nour clementines during the month of December, which is an exceptional variety. Its shape is a little different than typical clementines. The brix level is a little higher and the coloration is much redder than others.

“From January through April we are moving Nadorcotts,” he continued. “And we ship Cambria oranges — which are similar to navels — from late February through April.”

The Cambria navelate orange is described as a late orange that is high in sugar, seedless and has a rich, juicy flavor, making it a perfect fruit for eating out of hand. “It also has a better shelf life than other navels, and it has a smoother skin,” added Bellon. “Originally from South Africa, the Cambria grows very well in Morocco.”

World Fresh Produce also has a commanding presence with the Nadorcott clementine-type of mandarin. The fruit has a great depth of flavor and sweetness and a good acidity balance.

Bellon said that World Fresh Produce’s success lies in is its ability to be fully integrated with total control from the grove to the end-user, and supplying the best quality citrus to its customers.

Aronica agreed with Bellon about the high quality of product World Fresh Produce is importing. Matouk’s young age, experience, dedication and strong ambition, he noted, is driving the company in all the right directions.

“Michel speaks four languages,” said Aronica. “He is highly educated and very aggressive, yet he deals with people in a compassionate and professional way. He is involved in every aspect of the business. And he comes from, and is surrounded by, a wonderful family of dedicated people who work with him closely. I have never seen a level of motivation as high as what Michel displays to everyone around him.”

He added that World Fresh Produce’s philosophy is if you own the land, you can control product quality. “We do everything; logistics, packaging, inspections prior to the product leaving the offshore ports, marketing and shipping to customers in North America,” said Aronica. “We control volumes, quality and availability, and in doing so we can help our customers grow their businesses. We strategically assess and then help them to reach their financial goals and profitability with category management programs and supply planning.

“And we are authentic,” he continued. “We don’t make claims we don’t live up to. Our mission is to be very efficient, reliable and innovative. Our main objective is to deliver the best quality and best service, backed by reliability and integrity.”

Matouk pointed out that now, with Lazopoulos on its team, the company is quickly gaining a stronghold on the U.S. and Canadian citrus industry.

“Under John’s guidance we also anticipate great success with apples, pears and other items,” he said. “World Fresh Produce is a young, dynamic and highly energetic company without the huge overhead some new companies have. This enables us to be very competitive on price, while at the same time working on customized programs that are specifically designed for our customers’ needs.”