Monday, April 13, 2009

Caribbean Sunrise Papayas coming on strong with top quality at Brooks

Produce News article in the Florida Spring Produce section written by Christina DiMartino

"We are seeing volumes of Caribbean Sunrise papayas," said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Brooks Tropicals in Homestead, FL. "This is the smaller single or solo-size papaya. The quality is outstanding."

Ms. Ostlund explained that the current movement of the Caribbean Sunrise papaya represents the first full comeback since Hurricane Dean.

"This is a new variety with a great storage profile," she said. "We are really excited about this movement. We expect significant volumes to be available on the item."

Brooks Tropicals offers year-round movement of Florida-grown boniato. The company is now using a 40-pound bag instead of the 50-pound option. "The lighter bag is easier to lug around," said Ms. Ostlund. "Brooks has worked with its grower-partner on boniato for over 20 years."

Ms. Ostlund said that bulk is consumers' preference when purchasing boniato, saying it is a " stick you hand in and dig around until you find the one you want" type of product. As a collector of recipes on tropical produce, Ms. Ostlund said that here data bank is thickening under the boniato heading. Recipes that highlight or include boniato are on the increase whether on the Internet, in cookbooks or on TV cooking shows, she said."It is a fantastic alternative to a baking potato, " Ms. Ostlund pointed out. "It has a little dryer texture than a potato but is nuttier in flavor. People who get used to the great flavor also learn not to disguise it with fattening toppings like sour cream or butter that are typically used on baked potatoes."

Brooks Tropicals harvests over 70 percent of what the firms ells. Besides papaya, it specializes in SlimCado avocados, starfruit, limes, Uniq Fruit and numerous other traditionally tropical items including root products.

The season for Brooks Tropicals' Florida-grown SlimCado avocados wrapped up in march, but movement res up again in June and July with commercial volumes. The season then continues until the following February or March.

Ms. Ostlund noted that the past season was a good one for the SlimCado and the bloom now on the trees indicates that the crop in the coming season will be equally or even more outstanding.

"Brooks Tropicals branded its avocados with the SlimCado name because it affirms that the product has 50 percent less fat and a third fewer calories than other avocado varieties," said Ms. Ostlund. "Tests are performed weekly during harvesting and from various groves to confirm the fat and calorie content."

Brooks Tropicals is vertically integrated. It coordinates its farm group's harvesting schedule with its sales team to ensure supplies and sizes are consistent with customer needs.

"On the production end, we plan harvesting to meet our customers' promotion and advertising needs," said Ms. Ostlund. "In some cases, we can do this up to a year in advance."