Thursday, August 28, 2008

Expectations for the tropical fruit season

Excerpts from an article in the September - October 2008 edition of this Dade County Farm Bureau publication.

Craig Wheeling, CEO at Brooks Tropicals, said that they are 32% ahead of last year on revenue paid to growers.

"It's hard to get revenue increases to offset increases in production costs" he said, adding that the carambola market was very steady.

Wheeling was proud to report that Brooks just received an 97% and an 99% on a food safety audit done by an independent third-party food safety auditor.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Tropical Produce Factsheets

New factsheets are available on your favorite Brooks Tropicals' produce.

The new look and feel is a hit with retailers who have responded well to the bright tropical colors and new easy-to-read format.

Twelve product factsheets have been posted on the web for viewing or to download and print. More will be posted as they become available.

SlimCado Avocado Factsheet is now available on line

Excerpt from an article in The Packer of 8/18/08
by Pamela Rienmenschneider

The SlimCado avocado marketing campaign has been very successful for Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals, LLC.

"It gets across the whole idea of what makes this avocado different than a hass," Mary Ostlund director of marketing said.

New SlimCado and other tropical produce factsheets are now available for web viewing or printing from

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Brooks Tropicals offers green-skin avocado varieties June through January

8/11/08 article in the Produce News - Global Avocado Marketing Section

Brooks Tropicals LLC in Homestead, FL, grows, packs and markets an assortment of tropical produce - from papayas and starfruit to yams and yucca - from Florida, the Caribbean and Central America. One of the company's major product categories is Florida-grown green-skin avocados.

"We grow green-skin avocados here, and we market them under our 'SlimCado' labeling and marketing program," said Bill Brindle, vice president of sales for Brooks Tropicals. "Those have 35 percent fewer calories and 50 percent less fat than the Hass varieties, so we use the healthy approach" in the marketing programs.

"Green-skin avocados are tropical avocado varieties that differ from Hass in that they stay green as they ripen," Mr. Brindle said. "So we are selling a niche avocado, if you will." They also tend, generally, to be much larger than the Hass varieties.

The Florida avocado season, which runs from June through January, "is made up of about 30 commercial varieties," he said. "Each of those varieties has a distinct harvesting period that lasts from about 6 to 12 weeks." The harvest periods of the varieties overlap, creating "a continuous season" lasting about eight months.

"Right now, we are harvesting our Simmons variety, which is a very popular variety, and we will soon be harvesting our Bernecker variety," he said Monday, July 28.

The Simmons makes " a lot of 8- to 12-count fruit," he continued. "Most of our fruit would be about 20- to 22- ounce fruit," whereas Hass avocados are often in the 8- to 10- ounce range, he said. So the Simmons is "typically at least double the size of a Hass. We have some varieties that get up to 30- to 34- ounces. Those tend to be available a little bit later in the season, around December."

So compared to Hass, "we are definitely harvesting a larger avocado, one that stays green as it ripens, and as a rule has a shorter shelf life." In addition, "we market it as having less fat and lower calories than an Hass."

Moving into August, Brooks Tropicals was "headed into the peak" of the company's avocado production, Mr. Brindle said. With peak season beginning in August, "we are doing lots of retail promotions, and we have very attractive pricing to encourage that."

The crop, which was down in 2005 and 2006 due to two hurricanes in the 2005 season was back in full production last year with "a very healthy crop," he said. This year's crop is "just a little bit smaller than last year" but is still "what we would consider a normal or slightly above normal crop."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

StarPac launched for starfruit

excerpts from 7/28/08 article by Christina DiMartino

With its starfruit program ramping up for the season, Homestead, FL-based Brooks Tropicals has introduced a new clamshell pack for the product that will improve shipping and merchandising.

"The launch of our new starfruit Starpac was timed with the season revving up," said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for the company. "The package is being released in August. It's basically a clamshell with two divisions for one starfruit each."

From a logistical standpoint, Ms. Ostlund said that the new pack makes it easier to display, move and stack starfruit. There is less bruising of the fruit, and it adds an element of food safety because the product is protected from direct handling by staff and consumers.

"But we found another interesting benefit of the StarPac," said Ms. Ostlund. "It enhances the ripening process, and it helps to maintain the fruit's color better. It also extends the shelf life. Consumers see the fruit in its entirety, and the StarPac ensures them that it will get home in great condition."
Ms. Ostlund added that the UPC coding on the StarPac's label eliminates the chance of inaccuracies at the register because code numbers consistently will ring correctly.

Facility Completion
Brooks Tropicals also announced the completion of its new facility in northern Belize, near the town of Corozal, about 30 miles from the Mexican border.

"The 12,000-square-foot administration building holds our farm managers' offices, accounting group and other personnel," said Ms. Ostlund. "There are also new maintenance buildings, garages, fertilizer buildings and a break room where workers can congregate comfortably."

"Brooks spared nothing when it came to equipping the facility with the latest technology." Ms. Ostlund said that the Homestead office communicates with its two subsidiaries in Belize - one that handles farming and the other that oversees harvesting, packing and shipping - on a continuous basis. The new facility was built for the farming subsidiary.

"It is equipped with satellite communications, satellite video, high-speed Internet abilities and VOIP (voice over IP, technology that allows phone communications over the Internet)," she said. "We hold video conferences with our staff there at least once a day, which is invaluable for seamless product movement."

Food Safety Audits
"The most recent audit at our Belize facilities was in June, and we received a 95 percent, which is an excellent rating," said Ms. Ostlund. "It takes a great deal of focused effort by every staff member. Once standards are set and people get used to it, it becomes the normal way to function. Every employee must do their part and always be diligent."

Although 95 percent is a high rating, Brooks is particularly proud of the recent audit rating it earned at its Homestead packinghouse and cooling/cold storage and distribution center.

"The distribution center received a rating of 99 percent, and the packinghouse was rated at 97 percent," said Ms. Ostlund. "The auditor said he was so impressed that he asked if he could take photos of the facilities to use as examples for other companies. He also said that he would like to bring other operators to see our facilities in person.

Ms. Ostlund said that the auditor was impressed that every staff member was involved with the food-safety initiatives.

"It takes a commitment from every person, and that means everyone must be educated and aware of what they should be doing and exactly why," said Ms. Ostlund.

Monday, August 4, 2008

SlimCado Avocado is one of the 5 Flat Belly Foods

Excerpts from articles on Prevention Magazine and The NewsLeak websites.

These five ingredients hold the power to truly transform your body, not to mention lengthen your life. The secret is their magical "MUFA" (Aka good fat!). Number three is the Florida avocado (for the other 4 ingredients click here).

3. Avocado
Florida avocado or Hass avocado
Slice and serve with a salad or any entrée; mash with lime juice, salt, and pepper and serve with chips; chop and fold into store-bought salsa

A serving equals: 1/4 cup

Make a MUFA meal with avocado.
Click for the recipe: Chicken with Citrus-Avocado Salsa

What is MUFA?
MUFA (rhymes with loofah) stands for monounsaturated fatty acid.

The MUFA Diet was featured on Good Morning America today. It is a diet plan that focuses on the good fats called MUFA. Eating these types of fats is supposed to help keep your body from accumulating belly fat. The MUFA Diet has five different categories of good fats. These include nuts and seeds, oils, chocolate, avocado, and olives. When following the flat belly diet plan you eat one serving from one of these categories at every meal. This is supposed to help keep the bad fat away.