Continental Fresh looking forward to Brazilian mango exclusivity
Continental Fresh, based in Miami, specializes in tropical imports from Latin America to retail, foodservice and wholesale customers in the United States.
Albert Perez, president and CEO of the company, noted the company connects dependable growers with reputable buyers and collectively the Continental team has more than 80 years of experience importing fresh produce.
“I’ve been working with mangos from South America for the last 32 years,” he said. “We just completed the Mexican season where we were the top importers, hitting 2 million boxes with a label we just started this year called Water For All. Now it’s time to move into Brazilian product.”
In Brazil, Continental Fresh works with three mango growers from the country, and produce three labels: Suemi, Tropical and Fino Brasa.
“We are noticing that Mexico is going to end a little earlier than other seasons and we are already starting to see certain retailers switching over to Brazil,” Perez said. “It looks like Brazil will be alone in the market after Sept. 15, and we expect that to last for a while.”
That’s not typical at all for this time of year, but with Mexico running a little ahead of schedule, that puts Brazil mangos in a strong place and an opening for them to move freely in the marketplace.
“In terms of volume, we expect our typical volume out of Brazil this season, and everything looks normal in terms of supply,” Perez said. “What has been a little bit different is the behavior of demand due to COVID-19. The coronavirus has made demand a little inconsistent, but we hope we get into this exclusive time period with Brazil and things become steadier.”
Perez explained that all Brazilian mangos come once a week to the United States through New Jersey ports.
“There’s only that one vessel per week and all of us importers are on the same vessel,” he said. “That’s an interesting part of Brazil. There are no other ports of entry and everything delivers to the Northeast.”
The majority of mangos from Brazil are Tommy Atkins, which tend to be very colorful and high blush, which stand out on the retail shelves. The company also brings in some Palmer mangos, which is a specialty variety and offers great flavor.
“Brazil has good sizing and just beautiful color on the mangos,” Perez said. “We usually see mangos from Sept. 15 through the end of October.”
Since Continental Fresh offers mangos 52 weeks a year, it also has relationships with growers in places like Ecuador and Peru, but those are coming along later.
“We are a year-round mango provider and we work with a lot of processors, wholesalers and retailers throughout the year,” Perez said. “We do a lot of contract business as well as small market.”
Success in the category, he noted, comes from being there for customers with all the ups and downs of the market.
“Paying attention to details and quality, and ensuring the customer receives what they are expecting is important,” Perez said. “As is being able to adapt to all the changing seasons and varieties that mangos bring. We have to make sure we are offering consistent quality to our customers.”
Looking ahead to the rest of 2020, Continental Fresh is planning to continue to grow its vegetable programs from Mexico and Central America.
“We did have some hiccups at the end of March when the country shut down, but since then, business has picked up and been very consistent,” Perez said. “Retail business has been good.”