Excerpts from The Packer 6/23/08 article
By Haley Jones, Staff Writer
Promotions are vital in the produce industry -- especially when it comes to marketing rare and specialty varieties.
Companies that offer specialty produce are finding that information really is their strongest selling tool. Some companies have found a combination of methods effective in marketing their specialty products to their clients.
Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla., provides retailers with updates on lower-volume crops so they know what is in season.
"Mangoes, guavas and kumquats come in and out of season. We make sure our retailers know what's in season because some of these seasons aren't very long," said Mary Ostlund, marketing director.
Brooks is working to help retailers make unfamiliar fruit appeal to their patrons.
"We don't expect people to walk up and say, ‘I'm going to pick this up and eat it.' We've got to get it into folks' diet as part of an overall recipe," Ostlund said.
Brooks recommends serving suggestions in its tropical fruit displays to show consumers how to include the variety in their daily meals. Suggestions include blending in a mamey sapote with bananas in a smoothie or replacing tomatoes with papaya or SlimCado avocado in a homemade salsa.
"It's no longer just tomatoes in salsa. It's also not betting the whole dinner on an exotic specialty, that's new to you," Ostlund said.
Introducing customers to a new variety by incorporating it into familiar recipes makes the consumer more comfortable and likely to try it, Ostlund said.
"Salsa is the perfect 'whim' food. Chop up whatever suits your fancy. I've never known a salsa to fail and it's a perfect way to try new and exotic fruits and vegetables," Ostlund said.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Excerpts from The Packer 6/23/08 article
Excerpts from The Packer article of 6/23/08
By Haley Jones, Staff Writer
The high cost of living on the coasts is prompting an increasing number of Florida homeowners to turn their backyards into gardens for specialty crops. Residences of Miami-Dade County are taking advantage of an agricultural tax break opportunity by growing various crops on their own acreage.
Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals is a big supporter of the growing local produce trend, including backyard gardens. Brooks has brokered local produce since 1928, said marketing director Mary Ostlund.
"But we're losing farmland to the suburbs. We've seen acreage go from pre-1992 amounts when it was over 5,000 acres to 3,000 acres after Hurricane Andrew hit."
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2002 census, Florida farmland has decreased by almost 250,000 acres since 1997.
The unique sub-tropical climate of southern Florida provides a desirable palate for growing a variety of commodities year-round that are becoming increasingly difficult to find.
Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla., is introducing a clamshell package for its star fruit.
The custom-built StarPac will hit stores in August, in time to kick off star fruit season. The new package costs about 10 cents more than the regular package. Brooks expects to ship 120,000 cases of star fruit, said Mary Ostlund, marketing director. The number of new packages that would be shipped had not yet been determined.
"We know that customers will buy it, but we think it will be a gradual increase. We're letting the orders dictate what we pack," Ostlund said.
The package provides a plastic wall of separation between the two pieces of fruit that come in a package. It also allows air to circulate throughout the package with improved ventilation, Ostlund said.
Brooks performed a number of pilot trials testing the effectiveness of StarPac at protecting the fruit.
The company found StarPac kept fruit fresher than standard packaging and increased ripening time, improving the fruit's shelf life and quality. During the tests, the clamshell also protected against bruising from excessive customer handling, Ostlund said.
The star fruit is grown near Fort Myers, Fla. Ostlund said the soil is acidic enough to give the fruit a good size while maintaining its sweet taste.
The specialty produce company expects the new packaging to enhance star fruit sales nationwide.
Star fruit is especially popular with kids, who love fun the shape, Ostlund said. "StarPac showcases the oddly-shaped fruit that kids love to see and retailers are catching on," Ostlund said.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Congratulations Kristen Pritchett for winning our food safety contest. Ismael Gonzalez came in second. Both will receive a deluxe Brooks Tropicals pen.
Here are the food safety violations Kristen found.
Organic avocado packing house
1) No hairnet
2) No gloves
3) She’s wearing jewelry
4) No id badge
5) No apron
6) She's wearing labels around her neck, which are now contaminated by her sweat.
7) There are open areas where birds and/or pests can get in (any sign of 'droppings' is an automatic failure in a food safety audit). Anyone can walk in and either steal, or tamper with all of the boxes that are lying around.
8) The white bin is not marked for what it is used for (EXAMPLE: REJECTIONS, #2, GARBAGE)
On the tomato packing house, she found
1) No gloves
2) No aprons
3) Open areas
4) Bins are not marked for what it is used for (EXAMPLE: REJECTIONS, #2, GARBAGE)
5) Rubbish all over the floor
6) No hand dip/sanitation stations
7) No trash cans anywhere
8) No pest control devices, such as rat traps or bug zappers.
9) No safety signs or instructional signs, such as NO EATING OR DRINKING, NO SMOKING, EMERGENCY EXIT ONLY, HAIRNETS REQUIRED BEYOND THIS POINT.
10) There’s a box of tomatoes laying on the ground totally open.
11) There are cross contamination problems with how boxes are stored and stacked
12) No signs stating where #1 produce is stored and where the rejects are being stored.
13) The men are not wearing beard nets.
14) No evidence of a FIFO policy in use for commodities or packaging.
15) All exposed materials such as the tomatoes are not protected from overhead contamination.
Apologies for not finding out the school's name.
The time has finally come, where we can say good-bye to the old building and hello to a gorgeous building complex.
The building is waiting with new furniture, new phone system and new pictures. Just about everything is new except for the people!
The move was supposed to be last week except for a delay from a local utility. Nonetheless, the move started last Thursday. By the end of the week we should be all moved in.
Friday, June 20, 2008
First things first, these ARE NOT photographs of Brooks Tropicals' facilities.
These are photos that these companies submitted to trade publications to promote their produce.
Probably every single Brooks employee could pick out at least three major food safety violations in each photo.
A small prize to the Brooks Tropicals, Fruta Bomba and/or Belize Fruit Packer employee that picks out the most food safety violations in both pictures. Send your entries by 6/25/08 to firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes you read it right, our Homestead packing house, maintenance department and storage cooler were so good that the food safety inspector had trouble believing his eyes! He says he's coming back to see it again.
During the audit - while the auditor snapped dozens of photos to show other houses what a packing house should look like -he said that these facilities were one of the cleanest he has ever seen. He even said it looked like a museum.
During lunch the auditor raved about the company's efforts and performance.
So how high are the scores? 99% on the Homestead facility shipping coolers and 97% on the avocado packinghouse,* Brooks Tropicals has a lot to be proud about.
Other companies can say they passed a food safety audit with only 80%. Brooks is heads and shoulders above that.
To shout our success to customers, our advertising will have a new icon (see above).
*And let's not forget the recent 95% score achieved at our Caribbean Red and Caribbean Sunrise packing facility in Belize. Second excellent audit for our Belize operations.
Friday, June 13, 2008
If you'd like to stay cool as a cucumber in your kitchen, eat more fruits and veggies that are often 80% or more water. That's the word on how to stay healthy and hydrated in the heat from nutrition experts, who advise eating small meals and plenty of produce.
Caribbean Fruit Salad
4 tablespoons prepared vinaigrette dressing
3 (6-ounce) cans oil-packed white tuna, drained and flaked
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Two of our assistant supervisors, Mrs. Graciela Ancona and Mrs. Juanita Matu, embarked on a mission to raise funds for the victims of Tropical Storm Arthur in the southern part of Belize.
With the generosity of all of our employees, Graciela and Juanita were able to raise about $608.50 Belize or roughly $300.00 US for Tropical Storm Arthur victims.
Artist Luisa Caldwell of Brooklyn, NY is doing a commissioned art piece for the city of New York. The piece uses fruit and vegetable stickers to draw a landscape. Nice to know our outdated labels are being beautifully recycled.
Luisa sent us this as a sample.
Friday, June 6, 2008
The campaign centers around how SlimCado Avocados are healthy toppings for various dishes. The first ad shows a colorful salad. Soup, hamburger and sandwich ads are in the works.