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Southern Specialties stays unique

By
Seth Mendelson

Southern Specialties has made it a business of standing out in a crowded marketplace by offering something different and, at the same time, staying true to its very name.

The Pompano Beach, FL-based company, which services retailers, club stores, wholesale companies and foodservice distributors, focuses on the specialty arena, giving its customers a broad range of products that satisfies an increasingly-diverse consumer base.

“For more than 33 years, Southern Specialties has been recognized as a leader in the specialty arena,” said Charlie Eagle, the vice president of business development for the company. “We offer a wide variety of products grown in the Americas and distributed throughout most of the United States. Our investments in food safety, sustainability, cold chain management, state-of-the-art packaging and in-house processing have earned Southern Specialties an enviable roster of customers and partners across the entire spectrum.”

greensBut, this marketing strategy also means that Southern Specialties has to work much harder at both reaching their sales goals and exceeding the company’s own high expectations.

“Our year-round asparagus deal will be transitioning growing regions with Caborca, Mexico winding down as we start to see Peru increasing volume and some domestic product hit the market in the beginning of May," Eagle said. “Southern Selects French beans continue to be a customer favorite with good supplies forecasted. Excellent quality snipped green beans are processed in-house and are in good supply. Both broccoli florets and sweet baby broccoli will be popular products this spring.”

Eagle is quick to note that it also means making certain that the company’s customers know exactly what is coming down the pike on a consistent basis. That means not only product, but also industry trends, new technologies and keeping customers informed about any new technologies being added to better serve them.

“We try to communicate directly with our customers as often as possible,” Eagle said. “We recognize that timely information is a great tool. We also send out our “Southern Scoop” newsletter weekly to keep customers informed about markets, weather conditions and other information concerning crops.”

For example, the company is eager for customers to know about its recently-installed processing equipment in its 170,000-square-foot facility that is supercharging the growth of its snipped green bean program. The beans are sold in a two-pound by five-pound foodservice pack, as well as various retail size packs sold under both the Southern Selects brand and private label designations.

Eagle also noted that Southern Specialties is among the largest growers, importers and distributors of asparagus and other specialty products, in the nation. And, he said that the investment in vertically integrated product lines, food safety, sustainability, farms, facilities and workforce have enabled Southern Specialties to include “many of the finest retailers, foodservice distributors, club stores and wholesalers in North America on our list of customers.” 

The company offers its customers a wide range of items, such vegetables as English peas, sugar snap peas, Brussels sprouts, French and green beans, baby carrots and sweet baby broccoli. The company also carries a broad array of fruit, including pineapple, mango, large and golden papaya, starfruit, blueberries, blackberries and Hass avocado.

It also carries a line of specialty lettuce (radicchio, Belgian endive, red endive, watercress and arugula) and specialty tomatoes (baby heirlooms, heirloom tomatoes and yellow beefsteak tomatoes) as well as fresh cuts in broccoli, onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, butternut squash and Brussels sprouts. Will this continue into the future? Eagle has no doubt, given the work the company is doing to enhance its operation and the efforts of all of its employees, plus its rock-solid relationships with customers.

“Southern Specialties continues to engage with customers to determine ways we can enhance our relationships,” he said. “The feedback we get from those relationships determine what the future holds.”

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