London Fruit turning up the volume on its citrus program
PHARR, TX – During its 40-plus years in business, London Fruit has made a name for itself as a year-round distributor of high-quality Mexican limes. But limes are not the only item in London Fruit’s citrus portfolio.
“London’s lime quality is well known in the industry, and to complement our lime program we also offer Mexican lemons under the ‘Mr. Antonio’ label,” said Jerry Garcia, vice president of London Fruit, based here. “These typically sell for a premium on the market due to their high quality.”
Garcia said London is now offering Mexican oranges, grapefruit and mandarins, in addition to its lemon and Persian lime programs.
“We have grown our citrus programs over the last three years and expect to grow in that category,” he said.
Regarding grapefruit, Garcia said he is taking it slow in developing that program, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture marketing order recently changed in October to require fruit to meet strict standards for juice content.
“Grapefruit juice levels out of Mexico should soon be where they need to be. We expect them to be good to go within the month,” he said Nov. 4. “The USDA’s goal is to prevent immature fruit from hitting the market, which could have a negative effect on consumer acceptance. The regulations are in line with what is required in Florida, which has stricter standards than other states like Texas and California.”
To better serve its customers and in preparation of further growth, Garcia said London Fruit invested in a new bagging machine and citrus sizer.
“We installed a new bagging machine six months ago and a citrus sizer a month ago, and things are going very well with great feedback from our customers.”
In addition to the aforementioned items, London handles mangos and avocados. “When London was founded 42 years ago, we started with mangos. In the early 1990s, we added limes and were one of the first importers to offer Mexican avocados,” said Garcia. “Our decades of experience is why London Fruit is a trusted name in the produce industry.”
He said the past year saw a big growth spurt for the company. “We were more aggressive with sales, but the real key was the market prices,” said Garcia. “We had more volume, and already had strong retail programs in place that served us well during the past two years. Now we are gearing up for even further growth.”
London Fruit is currently the only importer and packer domestically offering Hazel 100 postharvest technology for its Persian lime and key lime programs. “The value-added service extends shelf life by up to two weeks,” said Garcia. “We have helped our customers to cut food waste across the supply chain, and we are very proud of that.”