Thursday, May 29, 2008

Florida avocado volumes likely down a bit

Excerpt from an article in 6/2/08 The Packer

By Doug Ohlemeier

Florida avocado grower-shippers expect a typical season with volume a little lower than last year’s.Growers of the large, green-skin avocados began light pickings in late May.

The state’s pickings normally start by the end of May and increase in mid-June with promotable volume hitting during July and August. The deal normally ends in January with lighter volumes in February.

Florida is expected to ship 900,000 to 950,000 bushels during the 2008-09 season, said Alan Flinn, administrator of the Homestead-based Florida Avocado Administrative Committee, which oversees the federal Florida avocado marketing order. That’s slightly less than last year’s 1.2 million bushels.

“We think it is a healthy crop,” said Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management for Brooks Tropicals Inc. “It should be almost a normal crop and a normal season.”

Brindle called this season an alternate-bearing year that should produce smaller volume than last season’s bumper crop. Brooks, which began harvesting a small volume of its early fruit May 19, expects to begin promotable-volume shipments during the second or third week of June, Brindle said.

Volume should increase exponentially every week until mid-August, the deal’s typical peak, he said. Retailers should expect ample volume for July and August promotions, Brindle said.

While 2006-07 was an abnormally high production year, it followed lower pickings in 2005-06 caused by destructive hurricanes that struck the south Florida growing region. Brooks plans to ship 500,000 bushels this season, 85% of the 570,000 bushels it shipped last year.

Brindle said he expects this season’s pricing to be somewhat between last season’s crop, which sold at a discount, and 2006’s stronger prices caused by lower-than-normal production.

Shippers expect growers to start picking the early arue and donnie varieties by early June.

Mary Ostlund, Brooks’ director of marketing, said the season looks favorable.“Everything about this year has been good,” Ostlund said May 27. “Everything's in place for marketing a successful crop. This should be a good year for everyone in avocados, from growers to grocers.”

Florida has produced an average 797,000 bushels since the 2003-04 season. Last year’s 1.2 million bushels was the highest since the 2002-03 season, according to the USDA. Florida’s avocado production normally accounts for 9% of U.S. avocado acreage.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

We're picking SlimCados!

The first bins of SlimCado Avocados were picked on the 19th of this month.

Avocados are alternate year bearing fruit (one year-high, the next year-low). Last year's crop was the largest crop seen in over a decade; this year's crop will be lower but CEO Craig Wheeling forecasts a promising 90% of last year's yield.

Last year Brooks Tropicals ran more fruit than all the other 11 packing houses combined. We pack and ship over 55% of the total Florida crop. We’ve been doing it going on 80 years now.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fresh Flavors for the Grill By Cat Cora

Excerpt from the May 18, 2008 article in PARADE magazine.

Nothing says fun in the summertime quite so well as the smell and sound of sizzling burgers on an outdoor grill. My favorite way to eat burgers is with unexpected seasonings and sauces.

Try the Papaya-Pineapple sauce it will transport your taste buds to exotic destinations. The sauce is great for a new spin on classic American patties such as the Hawaiian Ground Pork Patties recipe below. Really go for it and add some of the Papaya-Pineapple sauce into the pork patty itself.

Enjoy the tropics from the comfort of your own backyard.

Papaya-Pineapple Sauce

  • 4 Tbsp papaya, finely diced
  • 4 Tbsp crushed pineapple, thoroughly drained
  • 2/3 cup basic BBQ sauce
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook and stir over moderate heat until sauce boils; reduce heat and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

Hawaiian Ground Pork Patties With Pineapple-Papaya Sauce

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 3 Tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Mix the pork, breadcrumbs, onion, cayenne, sugar and 1/3 cup Pineapple-Papaya Sauce until ingredients are evenly combined. Shape into four 1-inch-thick patties. Brush the burgers with oil, then season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat, turning once, about 6 minutes a side.

Baste with some of the Pineapple-Papaya Sauce and grill for 2 minutes more. To serve, place burgers on rolls and spoon on Pineapple-Papaya Sauce. Top with lettuce, tomato, thinly sliced pineapple and onion slices to your taste.

For the entire article and more recipes, click here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

PMA advertising featuring our Sam Skogstad

The Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit International convention and exposition is the must attend event for everyone in Produce.

This year pictured in PMA's advertising for the event is Brooks Tropicals' Sam Skogstad, our Purchased Fruit Manager (on the right) who is seen talking to our chayote grower (on the left).

Monday, May 12, 2008

Just in! Photos of our papayas groves

Just in (thanks to Kevin), the latest photos from our papaya fields in Belize. Trees and fruit are looking great.
Lencho, however, could look happier.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Brooks Tropicals rebounds from 2007 hurricane

5/9/08 The Packer article By Doug Ohlemeier

Brooks Tropicals Inc., one of the largest papaya importers, is letting its customers know it has recovered from last fall’s hurricane damage and that production is returning to normal.

The Homestead, Fla.-based papayas and tropicals grower-shipper is rebounding from Hurricane Dean, which struck Brooks’ Belize growing regions last August. When shipments return to normal, Brooks plans to ship more papaya than it has ever shipped, said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing.

“On paper, our volume projections look like a hockey stick,” Ostlund said. “Volumes were so low the last couple of months, and now there’s a big upswing in the works. It’s exciting to watch and exciting to know we’re back in the market.”

Because they couldn’t buy Brooks’ papayas, many supermarkets removed papayas from their shelves, Ostlund said. She said the company knew many customers were holding back on their papaya purchases because they weren’t getting the quality they wanted.

After the storm knocked down trees and sheared other trees into stumps, Brooks lost up to 95% of its January and February shipments but by March began shipping 41% of normal month of shipments, Ostlund said.

By April, Brooks was shipping 64% of a normal crop and in June, Brooks plans to improve shipments up to 88% of normal and fully return to normal shipments in July, when it expects to hit 106% of normal movement, she said.

While Brooks harvests and ships papayas throughout the year, shipments normally peak in July. Springtime has historically been a favorable time for retail promotions, Ostlund said.

New seedlings Brooks planted have increased disease and insect resistance and possess higher brix and sweetness levels. The improved fungus resistance has helped improve papaya quality, Ostlund said. More resistant plants keep the fruit looking good and helps extend shelf life, she said.

Outside of resetting trees and new seedling planting, the grower was rebuilding its Belize operations.

A new facility, which includes eight separate buildings for new machinery and handling new food safety procedures, was scheduled to officially reopen in late May.

The company broke ground on the operation in mid-August, a week before Hurricane Dean struck. Sustaining only slight damage, Brooks quickly resumed construction the next week, Ostlund said.

In July, Brooks also plans to celebrate its two decades of being in the Belize papaya business.

From its 1,300 acres, Brooks expects to ship 2.2 million 32-pound boxes of papayas this next year beginning in July, Ostlund said.

Click here to see the article in The Packer online. When viewing the article, be sure to check out the Brooks Tropicals' animated lime ad (the position is shown by the red arrow in the screen print below). The ad is in 'rotation' which means any one of four ads from different companies can be shown. Refresh your screen 1 to 3 times to see the Brooks' animated ad.