Monday, June 28, 2010

Belize Prime Minister welcomed at dinner

Brooks Tropicals co-hosted a benefit gala on honoring the Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. Dean O. Barrow. This was the Prime Minister's first visit to South Florida.

Attending the dinner for Brooks Tropicals was Billy and Jessica Pritchett. Jessica reports that the dinner was a huge success and that she and Billy enjoyed meeting the Prime Minister.*

*I'm sorry about the quality of the photos. We had a camera malfunction. I've asked for photos taken by the official photographer for the event and will post when I receive.

Marketers fill demand for niche produce items

Excerpts from a 6/21/10 The Packer article written by Susie Cable

Deciding whether a produce item is a specialty item can be tricky because there's no universally accepted definition for the category. Geography, clientele, availability and handling requirements can all play into whether an item is considered a specialty.

Brooks Tropicals LLC., Homestead, Fla., sells about 30 tropical stock-keeping units, said Mary Osltund, marketing director. The Caribbean Red papaya is the company's top seller; followed by its SlimCado-brand avocado, starfruit, Uniq fruit and limes. Ostlund said she sees papayas as being mainstream items now.

"There are certain markets where I think it's a highly prized staple," she said.

Disney World's Tables in Wonderland

Tables in Wonderland is a series of dining events that features local farmers and crops. Below is the email blast that went out to the 'Tables in Wonderland' Dining Club. The menu for the evening follows that.

Tables in Wonderland Presents:
The Wave . . . of American Flavors Discovery Dinner
Thursday, July 15, 2010
6:30 p.m. Reception 7 p.m. Dinner
Location: The Wave . . . of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Dress is Casual Evening Attire
$92 per person, includes tax and gratuity

About our featured farmer...
Brooks Tropicals has been growing tropical fruits and vegetables in Florida and the Caribbean since the 1920s. Brooks sells more than 28 different tropical fruits and vegetables; its specialties are SlimCado avocados, Caribbean Red papayas and Florida starfruit. Representing Brooks Tropicals at this event will be Mary Ostlund, director of marketing.

Latinos call Caribbean Red papayas by the nickname “fruta bomba,” literally “bomb fruit.” One look at the three-to-five-pound fruit will tell you why. Consumers sometimes wonder whether the Caribbean Red is genetically modified, which it is not. It is naturally large and naturally good for you.

The SlimCado has a great avocado taste; it’s a much lighter-tasting avocado. It should be, with less than half the calories and a third less fat than the Hass avocado. And it’s so much bigger! SlimCado avocados can be three to five times larger than a Hass avocado.

Last but not least, the last tropical fruit star of the menu for this event is a star in itself – the starfruit. Brooks Tropicals was a U.S. pioneer for this Asian treat. Starfruit grow under the canopy of the rainforests in Southeast Asia. In Florida, Brooks grows them in the sandy soils of Pine Island on the west coast of Florida

Reception in The Wave . . . of American Flavors Lounge
  • Laughing Bird Shrimp Salsa on a Pineapple Crisp
  • Tenderloin Satay on a Sugar Cane Skewer (Side Note-Marinade in Papaya Vinaigrette
  • Clayhouse “Adobe White”, Paso Robles, CA, 2008

Dinner in The Wave . . . of American Flavors Private Dining Room
Seafood Course

  • South Florida seafood Trio: Lobster SlimCado Cocktail, Fried Oyster on the Half Shell (Guava Chili Jam), Blue Crab Slider
  • Domaine Siglas, Asyritiko, Santorini, Greece 2008

Salad Course

  • Roasted Georgia Corn with Santa Sweet Tomatoes, Cipollini Onions, Gorgonzola, and Micro Greens
  • Domaine de la Chanteleuserie, Bourgueil “Les Alouettes”, Loire Valley, France, 2007
    Entrée Course
  • Kubota Pork Loin with Carambola and Dark Rum, Sugar Cane-glazed Sweet Potato and Long Beans
  • La Columbia “Ripasso” de la Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy, 2007


  • Tropical Guava Sorbet
  • Brinley’s Mango Rum of St Kitts


  • Chocolate Truffle “Mirage” with Raspberry Crème Brûlée,
  • Black Currant Gelée
  • SlimCado Sabayon
  • Mamey Sapote Ice Cream

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Photos from BFP, our superior rated facility

photos by Darrell Thompson

Belize Fruit Packers achieves superior food audit results

Posted by Darrell Thompson,

Once more, Belize Fruit Packers Company Limited, packinghouse for Brooks Tropicals’ Caribbean Red and Caribbean Sunrise Papayas received a superior percentage score category on their 4th Food Safety Audit from since 2006 when the Food Safety Programme started.

The Food Safety Department headed by Darrell Thompson and Alfonso Villamil headed up the work to preserve the Food Safety standards required by Primus for packinghouse facilities. The work included the proper GMP’s, training, education and programme innovation.


Papayas featured on Iron Chef America

In this popular culinary showdown, Brooklyn-based chef Pierre Thiam took on Iron Chef Bobby Flay. It was Asian vs the American Southwest.

The secret ingredient was papaya, which Flay described as the "ugly cousin of mango."

The show will air again on the Food Network:
Jun 24, 2010, 9:00 PM ET/PT
Jun 25, 2010, 12:00 AM ET/PT
Jun 26, 2010, 5:00 PM ET/PT

Florida avocado growers, scientists battle destructive beetle

Excerpts from an 6/14/10 The Packer article by Doug Ohlemeier.

The south Florida avocado industry remains on alert after a disease that kills avocado trees has moved closer to south Florida.

The tiny redbay ambrosia beetle, which has moved from South Carolina and Georgia into south Florida, spreads the laurel wilt fungus.

The research and development department of Homestead-based Brooks Tropicals LLC has worked closely with University of Florida scientists in assembling a battle plan against the disease, said Bill Brindle, Brooks' vice president of sales management.

He said Brooks' efforts have fed scientists information that could be helpful in finding solutions.

"This disease is a big threat but I think everyone's finally tarting to make progress on the research," Brindle said. "They have a preliminary plan in place for once it (the disease) gets to us."

That plan, Brindle said, details how the industry will combat both the beetle that carries the disease as well as the diseases once it infects trees.

"It (the disease) will increase our costs some, which is never a good thing, but there is optimism that we will be able to survive as an industry," Brindle said.

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Persian Limes ad hits the press

Keeping in step with the Caribbean Red Papayas and SlimCado Avocados ads, the new Persian Limes ad has made its debut.

Starfruit - on the grill or right on top

Excerpts from a 6/15/10 Chicago Tribune article by Maricel E. Presilla, Carambola stars from sweet to savory

Carambola is the pinup girl of tropical fruit, valued more for its comely shape and lovely skin than its substance.

Yet, star fruit is more than a whimsical garnish for a cocktail. It can be a versatile cooking ingredient, and it is perfect for drying.

I prefer to cook the fruit as little as possible before using it in an upside-down cake or as a filling for a pie or sweet empanada or a topping for ice cream. Ingredients such as cinnamon, star anise, ginger and aged rum enhance its fragrance, and flavorful Latin American brown loaf sugar brings out its honey notes.

For more ideas about cooking with starfruit, click on the link above.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

SlimCados featured in Better Homes and Gardens

In the July issue of Better Homes and Gardens, SlimCados were featured inthe ‘Food - better cook’ section (page 172).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Another excellent year for Homestead food safety audits

On June 3rd, the Homestead packing house and cooling/cold storage facility went through food safety audits. Both passed with flying colors.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New SlimCado Avocado ad hits the press

Front and center in the Florida Avocados special section in The Packer, the new ad emphasizes our leading role in the industry reflected in the title "from our avocado fields to our customers' stores."

The ad is one in a series of "From our fields to your stores". The first, Caribbean Red papayas ran earlier this year. The third, Persian limes, is in final stages and will run in mid-June.

The artwork for these ads will also be featured in our tradeshow booths including the new PMA booth for this fall.

Florida growers expect late avocado crop

Excerpts from an article in the Florida Avocados Special section of The Packer, written by Doug Ohlemeier published on 05/28/2010 09:15AM

Grower-shippers of Florida avocados say retailers should expect volume to start later than normal during the beginning of this season’s harvesting.

Though Florida growers typically start harvesting their large green-skinned avocados in late May, commercial volumes normally ramp up by mid-June, with promotable volumes usually hitting in early July.

Some say the deal’s volume should be up to one to two weeks later than last year’s start.

Grower-shippers of Florida avocados say retailers should expect volume to start later than normal during the beginning of this season’s harvesting.

Before a windstorm struck growing regions in late April, Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management for Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, said the industry was hoping for a harvest around 1.1 million bushels, one of the largest crops since 2005.

The storm, which brought winds exceeding 50 mph that blew an undetermined amount of small fruit off trees, could have affected up to a third of growers’ early season shipments

Brindle said he expects the crop to be a little less than initially estimated. Brindle said the storm was a normal storm system that moves through in April but that this one brought stronger than the normal 30 mph winds. It struck during the middle of south Florida’s fruit set period when the deal has many small fruit and flowers that were about to mature.

Brindle said growers would have a better idea of the size of this year’s deal in late May.
“The last three years have gone really well,” he said in early May. “The industry has fully recovered from the hurricanes we had in 2005 and 2006. We are hoping for a really good year.”

Responsible for about half of the deal’s fruit, Brooks expects to ship a little less than 500,000 bushels, higher than the 440,000 bushels it shipped last season.

Alan Flinn, administrator of the Florida Avocado Administrative Committee, Homestead, forecast the industry to ship 1 million bushels, up from the 929,000 pounds the industry shipped in 2009-10.
“We should have a very good season this year,” Flinn said in early May. “We have had a good bloom and fruit set so far.”

New varieties could bring Florida to year-round production

Excerpts from an article found in The Packer Special sections: Florida Avocados written by Doug Ohlemeier published on 05/28/2010 09:52AM

Development of new varieties such as the Wheeling variety could bring late and early season production that could close south Florida’s spring gap and help move the deal to near year-round production.

Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla., has started growing two new varieties that produce fruit during the end of one season and before the start of the next season.The first variety, called wheeling in honor of Brooks’ president, Craig Wheeling, is timed to harvest in March and April.The second variety, called Brooks later, is scheduled to start harvesting in mid-April with harvesting running through late May.

"The wheeling variety is scheduled to begin shipments during the 2010-11 season, while Brooks’ later variety remains in early stages of development and won’t be commercially available until the end of the 2012-13 season," said Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management.

Because Florida’s season normally misses the two biggest events for avocados — January’s Super Bowl and Cinco de Mayo — Brindle said the new patented varieties could help south Florida’s avocado deal capture more sales.

“Any extension of the season to take advantage of those events would be great news for our industry,” Brindle said. “We are excited that in a few years from now, we could come very close to having a year-round Florida avocado program.

If the trials are successful, Brindle said Brooks plans to plant more acres to provide more promotable volume.

“There are some promising varieties out there. The varieties they are creating are unbelievable.” While growers grow up to 30 commercial avocado varieties, supermarkets typically feature six to eight varieties on their shelves, Brindle said.

Two staffers move up at Brooks Tropicals

Excerpts from an article by Doug Ohlemeier published on 05/28/2010 01:01PM

Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals Inc. promoted Sam Skogstad from purchased fruit manager to director of sourcing and Sue Garcia from purchased fruit assistant to saleswoman.

The grower-shipper in early May promoted Sam Skogstad from purchased fruit manager to director of sourcing. Aside from growing Brooks’ import business, Skogstad will develop Brooks’ Belize papaya program.

The company is planning to significantly expand its McAllen, Texas, crossings of Belize papayas during the next couple of years, said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing.

Skogstad has worked for Brooks since 2001.

Sue Garcia, who was a purchased fruit assistant, is now a saleswoman. Garcia works with many customers, including West Coast and terminal market buyers. Garcia joined Brooks in 2007.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Brooks Tropicals kicks off 'SlimCado' avocado season

Produce News article by Christina DiMartino published 05/28/2010

Just in time for cool salads, salsas, dips and spreads that are popular in summer, Brooks Tropicals LLC's "SlimCado" avocados are again in season.

The company began harvesting early varieties of the Florida-grown avocados in late May, with commercial volumes scheduled to be moving in mid-June. Bill Brindle, vice president of sales for Brooks Tropicals, which is headquartered in Homestead, FL, said that Florida avocado varieties are alternate-bearing from year to year, but not all varieties are in sync.

“Volumes on some varieties are stronger than others every year,” Mr. Brindle told The Produce News. “Crops were healthy across the board in 2007 and 2008, and then 2009 was down due to a couple of factors. This year, we’re expecting the crop to be back up. Some environmental factors, however, could come into play.

On April 26, during our flowering period, there was a big windstorm here with gusts of over 50 miles per hour. We’re a little worried that the winds could have blown off some flowers and even small fruit.”

The windstorm Mr. Brindle referred to was part of the weather system that caused devastating tornados in Louisiana and Mississippi. Despite concerns, he said that the company is optimistic that it will be a good crop, and that a clearer assessment would be known by mid-June, just as commercial volumes start moving.

Promotional volumes will be on hand by mid-July. Supplies of “SlimCado” avocados typically run through mid-January, with lighter volumes continuing to move into the spring.

Brooks Tropicals has been on the forefront of finding a resolution to laurel wilt, a disease that is carried by the ambrosia beetle and affects avocado trees. The company was instrumental in organizing an industry group of Florida avocado packinghouses to obtain and coordinate funding initiatives to lessen the effect of laurel wilt on the south Florida industry.

Brooks Tropicals continues its work with the industry by providing resources and sharing the results of its own research with the entire industry and the University of Florida.

“Laurel wilt is a very real concern,” said Mr. Brindle. “An ambrosia beetle was found pretty close to the growing region in Florida earlier this year. We continue to work with these groups to ensure that research continues.”

Craig Wheeling, president of Brooks Tropicals, said that the 2010-11 season would have some new variety entrants into the Florida avocado lineup.

“Brooks Tropicals’ in-house research team has had a 'fruitful’ outcome with two experimental programs for late-season avocados,” said Mr. Wheeling. “We’re proud to announce two new patented varieties: the Wheeling and the Brooks- Later. Both varieties are harvested in April with the Brooks-Later being available into May.”

Mr. Brindle added that the new varieties “sailed beautifully” through the company’s taste tests.
“To have ‘SlimCados’ almost year round will be heartily welcomed by our customers,” added Mr. Brindle.

Florida avocados are grown commercially on about 6,500 acres, mainly in Miami- Dade County at the extreme southern end of the state. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Florida’s avocados normally account for 9 percent of total U.S. avocado production.
With half the fat and one-third fewer calories compared to the leading California avocado, “SlimCados” pack a lot of avocado into every health-conscious serving. “Retail sales continue to grow,” said Mr. Brindle. “The smart retailer knows that adding ‘SlimCados’ to their avocado aisle increases overall sales in the category from both nutritional and ethnic standpoints.”
Mr. Brindle said that health-conscious consumers like having an avocado alternative that has fewer calories and less fat — two nutritional benefits that build additional sales with this highly valued targeted market. Hispanics and Caribbean natives choose the “SlimCado” because it is most like the avocados found in their homelands.
“We’re excited about upcoming crop and look forward to nice promotions in July,” said Mr. Brindle.