Thursday, February 4, 2010

Brooks adds papaya box, beefs up laboratory

The Packer article by Doug Ohlemeir on 2/01/10

Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla., is introducing a new papaya box, has upgraded its quality control laboratory and has brought in some new personnel to help it improve papaya deliveries.
The year-round papaya grower-shipper has expanded and fortified its Belize laboratory with new equipment.

Brooks has always had a laboratory but is now conducting more in-depth research on growing practices to ensure consistent fruit quality, said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing.

The new display-ready corner post papaya boxes — which use less cardboard — provide for more rigidity when stacking and should result in less fruit bruising and makes for better overall quality, Ostlund said.

Brooks has also added a salesman to sell its Caribbean Red-branded papayas and a scientist to head up its Belize lab.

Richard Mancini, who joined Brooks in mid-January, is the Caribbean Red papaya director of sales from Brooks’ Homestead office.

Mancini, who previously worked retail sales as a south Florida district sales manager for Fiji Water, takes the position previously held by Jose Rossignoli, who was Brooks’ vice president of sales before leaving for Colorful Harvest LLC, Salinas, Calif., in December.

Victor Salguero, an agronomist and entomologist who has degrees from San Carlos, the national University of Guatemala, and New Mexico State University and the University of Florida, leads Brooks’ Belize lab. Salguero joined Brooks last fall.

Henry Warrington is Brooks' director of papaya field operations. Henry has helped Brooks recover its papaya volume after the Category 5 Hurricane Dean damaged Brooks' Belize operations in 2007.

Brooks, which grows and ships its Caribbean Red papaya throughout the year, this year expects to increase its volumes to 1.8 million boxes, 25% more than 2009 and about the same volume it had before the hurricane struck, Ostlund said.

“We came back not only from Hurricane Dean, but Belize had some record rainfall last year, about 72 inches,” Ostlund said. “To be able to come back with the efforts of Henry and Victor in the lab, being able to put into effect agricultural measures that can combat all the negative problems you have with record rainfall, that says quite a bit about the efficiency of the lab and how we will be able to progress in the future with good quality and good volume.”

Ostlund said Brooks is experiencing the best papaya quality it has seen in more than two decades