Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Brooks Tropicals’ ‘SlimCado’ avocados at peak season in August


Excerpts from an article in the Produce News' Global Avocado Marketing section written by Rand Green


“Florida avocados are seasonal,” said Bill Brindle, vice president of sales for Brooks Tropicals LLC in Homestead, FL, July 22. “They start off in July and run pretty much through December, so we are right at the beginning of our season.”
The season gets off to a quick start with volume building quickly, so that “we get up to our peak volumes” by August, he said. “We are pretty much going to be peaking for at least the next six weeks.” It is “a very nice crop coming in,” with about a 40 percent increase in volume over 2010.

Last year, the Florida green skin avocado crop was about 850,000 bushels, Mr. Brindle said. “Brooks is projecting this year’s crop at closer to 1.2 million” for the industry, “and Brooks is about 50 percent of the industry.”

Unlike their smaller cousins, the Hass avocado, Florida green skin avocados retain their green color when ripe.

And as it happens, due to a light California Hass crop this summer, Florida green skins are coming into peak production this year at a time when Hass volumes in the market are light. That will provide “an opportunity for some customers to take advantage of our nice crop and hopefully move some additional Florida volume this year.”

Brooks Tropicals markets its Florida green skin avocados under the “SlimCado” brand, a name that highlights another big difference between Florida green skins and the Hass variety — the difference in fat content and calories.

The “SlimCado” marketing campaign is built around the fact that Florida green skin avocados have about 35 percent fewer calories than a typical Hass avocado, and about half the fat, he explained. “That is a natural characteristic of the many varieties that we grow, due to their lower oil content” as compared to Hass.

The Florida green skins grown by Brooks consist not of a single avocado variety but “about 30 different commercial varieties,” Mr. Brindle said. Each variety has a season of about six weeks. The varieties have different start dates but overlap with other varieties, so that several varieties may be in the market at any given time.

“Right now, we are harvesting mostly Simmonds and Hardee,” he said. But within the next couple of weeks, that will be transitioning into other varieties.

While there are some differences among the various Florida green skin varieties, there are also similarities that distinguish them as a group from Hass. Apart from the fact that they “stay green as they ripen” and have a lower oil content, “they are also typically larger,” Mr. Brindle said. “Most of our avocados are typically a pound to a pound-and-a-half.” Many of them also have a smoother skin than Hass.

There are, however, some “small variances” among the varieties, he said. With regard to taste, for example, “various ones have little distinct differences. Some of them are a little more buttery, some of them are a little nuttier.”

But because of their similarities, they are “not as a rule” marketed by specific variety, he said. With the “SlimCado” crop being at peak season, “we are actually trying to do promotions ... throughout the month of August,” he said. “The biggest thing we do different from other Florida avocado suppliers is our ‘SlimCado’ program, and we have been doing that for 10 years now.”

Customer testimonial

I just wanted to send out a quick thank you note regarding your papayas.  I just bought one for lunch at my local Meijer’s store and it was absolutely wonderful.  As I may have mentioned in the past I usually have one for breakfast every morning and quite frankly a lot of them leave something to be desired.  But usually when I am able to get your brand it is always very sweet and a perfect bright orange color. I am not sure what you do at your plantation to produce such wonderful papayas but just keep up the good work.  Someday if I ever get that chance to vacation in Belize I would love to visit and see how you do it.

Hope you are having a great day.  I know I will after eating this beautiful papaya. See attached photo.

Bill

Monday, August 1, 2011

Gluten free, naturally sweetened Caribbean Red papaya recipes



Is your SlimCado turning red?

Ripening stages of the Hardee SlimCado avocado
Then you've bought yourself a Hardee variety. They're only in season a few weeks a year, so enjoy while you can. 


The Hardee SlimCado is ready to eat starting at 50% red. If it gives with a little squeeze, it's ripe.
Hardee SlimCado nutritional information

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

West coast papaya sitings

On a recent trip to Southern California, Felix Vicente our director of IT had a couple of 'papaya' spottings. 


In Irvine, there's the upscale Papaya restaurant.



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Avocado Season Reaps Bountiful Harvest

Our President and owner, Pal Brooks was interviewed for Channel 6 which is the NBC affiliate in Miami. The segment was aired 7/22/11. To view the segment, click here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Florida bringing bumper avocado crop

Except from a 07/25/2011 The Packer article by Doug Ohlemeier

Courtesy Brooks Tropicals
Workers grade green-skinned avocados at Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla., in late July. Shippers say retailers should expect larger fruit volume and a bigger peak promotion window which could run through September.
A larger crop has retailers running longer and bigger promotions of Florida avocados.

Grower-shippers say retailers should expect strong volume through August and into September.


Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management for Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla., estimates late July volume is 30% higher than normal.


“The high prices and shortage of hass avocados have really stimulated our retailers to sell more of the Florida fruit,” he said in late July. “We are having really good retail support this season. The whole season has been going great.”


Brindle said Brooks, which typically packs about half of the south Florida green-skinned avocado deal, plans to ship promotable volume through the end of August. While the season’s peak is expected to hit is normal time, Brindle said volume is stronger this year.


For the week of July 18, Brooks packed 57,000 bushels and expects to pack 60,000 bushels the last week of July. That compares to the last big crop south Florida experienced in 2008 when Brooks’ biggest week had it packing 53,000 bushels, Mary Ostlund, director of marketing, said on July 22.

That compares to last season when 8-9s sold for $6 with 10-12s fetching $6.50-7.
Florida growers expect to pack 1.2 million bushels, 40% larger than last season’s 855,528 bushels, Brindle said. The growing region shipped 914,140 bushels in 2009-2010.
While Florida’s production usually starts in light volume in late May and early June, volume picks up and hits peak in late summer. Shipments usually run through January.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Excellent results on food safety audits!

Brooks Tropicals' facilities in Belize C.A. and Homestead, FL obtain near perfect scores on food safety audits done by independent third party auditors.

Audit scores indicate that the procedures and practices utilized by these facilities have been verified as not only meeting but exceeding USDA/FDA food safety standards. 

Food safety for Brooks is not a static but a continuous program that receives top priority by all employees.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Papaya - part of a winning entry

Newport Beach artist Heidi Dobrott's watercolor butterfly made of a split-open papaya, romaine lettuce, carrot and cherry has been chosen as a finalist from 800 entries in grocer Fresh and Easy's Design-a-Bag contest.
The designer with the most votes on freshandeasy.com will get his or her work splashed on reusable grocery bags in all of the chain's stores, as well as $5,000 in groceries.
The voting ends July 10, and the winner will be announced July 26.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Did you notice an additional 100 people on the property?

There was no need to call security. Because on June 23rd, Brooks Tropicals hosted 100 educators from the 2011 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference held in Fort Lauderdale.

The conference gave teachers from across North America a chance to see Florida agriculture firsthand and participate in interactive workshops that show them how to incorporate real-life agricultural applications into their language arts, math, nutrition, science and social studies classroom lessons.

Almost 400 participants took part in the conference which was hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Florida Department of Agriculture, Florida Agriculture in the Classroom and the Southern Region Agriculture in the Classroom states.

Upon arriving at Brooks, they were given a walk-through of our avocado groves on the Southwest section of the facility by Bill Brindle and Mary Ostlund. Then Brittany Morrow and Mary gave them tours of the packing house and refrigerated loading dock.

The tour ended with a Caribbean Red papaya snack and - we couldn't resist - a pop quiz about the information they heard while on tour. Instead of grades, the winners of the pop quiz were given Brooks Tropicals' straw hats.





Red is the new green: red hued fruit contains natural antioxidants

Excerpt from articles in the Bradenton Herald, the Sacramento Bee, the GFBC News Network, and the PR Newswire

Red-hued fruits are rich in antioxidants that can tamper inflammation and can be effective as cancer fighting agents, according to an article in the June issue of Food Nutrition & Science. According to her article, Registered Dietician Donna Fields suggests eating foods such as tomatoes and tomato products, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, apricots, red peppers, papaya, and especially Caribbean Red papaya.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Caribbean Red papayas featured in nutritionist newsletter

Food, Nutrition and Science newsletter featured Donna Shields talking about Caribbean Red papayas. The newsletter goes out to supermarket nutritionists across North America. It's also sent out via PR outlets to newspapers, magazines and other media.


To view the entire article, click here.

Screen capture of newsletter

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New Brooks Tropicals CEO is settling in

Excerpts from a 6/20/11 article in The Packer


Greg Smith has had about two months to acclimate himself as chief executive officer at Brooks Tropicals LLC in Homestead, Fla., and the transition has been smooth, said Mary Ostlund, marketing director.

"Walking in the door he was, 'you're doing a great job; how can we do it better?'" Ostlund said. " He pushes us to think about how we do our jobs and how they can be done better."

Smith, who has an executive background with Coca-Cola and is new to the produce industry, has emphasized public relations efforts in his first couple of months, Ostlund said. "We're pitching story ideas 'starring' our brands to consumer magazines and other media," she said.

Specialty sector showing gains

Excerpts from a 6/20/11 article in The Packer by Jim Offner


As demographics change, exotic items are becoming more popular with customers and moving into the mainstream.

Specialty produce is in growth mode, marketers say.

Growth in the specialty category has transcended demographics, said Mary Ostlund marketing director with Homestead, Fla. - based. Brooks Tropicals LLC.

"Recent surveys of the American consumer show they actively look for new and exciting tastes to include in their menus - different spices, different meats and definitely different produce," she said.

Attention-grabbing displays work, said Ms. Ostlund. "People are pulled to the display when it's creative and sharp-looking."


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Avocados Special Section - Produce Retailer 6/11

SlimCado avocados were first and foremost in the Produce Retailer's Avocado Special Section. A merchandising guide (image here) was on one page with our ad on the facing page.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Caribbean Red papaya recipes





















Gluten – free Caribbean Red papaya bread

Ingredients

1/3 cup canola oil

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 ¾ cup gluten-free all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp xanthan gum

¾ tsp ground ginger

¾ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

½ Caribbean Red papaya

½ cup coconut flakes

½ cup pecans, chopped


Directions

· Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9” X 5” loaf pan or 3 mini loaf pans.

· Cream together oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer.

· Puree or mash the Caribbean Red papaya.

· Add next 6 ingredients alternating with papaya.

· Beat until smooth. Stir in coconut and pecan.

· Pour into loaf pan(s).

· Bake 1 hour if using full size loaf pan; 45 minutes if using mini pans.*

Serves: 9 to 12

Prep time: excluding baking time – 30 minutes













Caribbean Red papaya relish

Ingredients

¼ cup Caribbean Red papaya

¼ cup yellow onion

¼ cup red or green bell pepper

¼ cup yellow squash

¼ cup fresh cilantro

1 tbs fresh ginger

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbs lime juice

1 tsp pepper


Directions:

Finely chop first five ingredients.

Combine with olive oil, lime juice and pepper.

Cover and refrigerate 2 hours before serving.

Serve on top cream cheese for an appetizer.

Makes 3 cups.

Prep time: 30 minutes


More Caribbean Red papaya recipes

Beetle threatens production

Excerpts from a 5/30/11 article in The Packer by Doug Ohlemeier


Florida's avocado industry remains on alert for a tree-killing disease that's moving closer to south Florida production areas.

"The beetle is right here at our doorstep," said Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management for Brooks Tropicals, LLC. "But to the best of my knowledge, there has not been an avocado tree found in Miami-Dade County yet that has been affected by it, so that's positive."

Researchers are collecting, identifying and cataloging parasite insects found in the trees and have many research projects underway to study ways to limit the spread of the beetle and the disease, said Denise Feiber, the state agricultural agency's public information director.

Trapping has been intensive since 2/10 when the agency increased its surveillance in the Miami-Dade County area after the first redbay ambrosia beetle was trapped in a residential area, 12 miles north of the commercial production area, Feiber said.

"You can see how it's (the insect) moving to the south," she said. "What we are finding is it appears the avocado tree is not the preferred host of the beetle. It prefers the swamp bay trees. That's good news."

Entomologists are studying the beetles' life cycles, and pathologists are probing how the beetle fares during wood chipping of red bay trees, Feiber said. It appears the beetles don't survive the chipping process, she said.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Growers adopt food safety protocols

Excerpts from a 5/30/11 article in The Packer by Doug Ohlemeier


South Florida's avocado grower-shippers are keeping their production and packing facilities updated on food safety procedures and investing in proper food safety practices.

Although Brooks Tropicals, LLC. Homestead, Fla., has long had its packing facility third-party audited by PrimusLabs, Santa Maria, Califl, the company is nearing third-party certification for all its avocado groves and crews, said Bill Brindle, Brooks' vice president of sales management.

Brooks has conducted a pilot program for the Produce Traceability INitiative-compliant GS1-128 labels and the Global Trade Identification Numbers for case lots, Brindle said. Brooks is working with key retailers to ensure they meet buyers' requirements.

"Theoretically, a lot is supposed to be done by the end of this year," Brindle said. "But as I talk with people in the industry, most of them are in the position where we are, where they're trying to figure out what needs to be done and the most efficient way to do it. When you do things like that, you really don't want to have to do it twice. You don't want to race out there first and do it one way when another gib retailer tells you to do it a different way."

Experimentation focuses on producing late-season varieties

Excerpts from a 5/30/11 article in The Packer by Doug Ohlemeier


Variety development remains critical to the future of Florida avocados.

Growers continually invest in new varieties to keep quality high and to supply abundant fruit.

Their focus is on developing new varieties for late-season production. Florida avocado production typically begins in June and finishes by early January, and later-season varieties can extend the deal, help keep demand moving and tighten the February to May product gap.

Brooks Tropicals, LLC. is growing two late-season varieties. Wheeling, named in honor of Brooks' former president, Craig Wheeling, harvests in late February and the first half of March while Brooks Later, a follow-up to Brooks Late, bears fruit mid-April through late May.

Brooks' late-season varieties performed well last season, said Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management.

He said Brooks, was pleased with how Wheeling bore fruit and that it possessed good timing and produced high-quality fruit. The variety allowed the grower-shipper to extend its season by nearly six weeks, Brindle said.

"We are looking to grow more fruit for that time period in the future," Brindle said. "With the success we had with it last year, we are working on ways to have more of that fruit for that late in the season. There was very little other Florida fruit to compete against, so it worked out well. This helps extend the season and helps grow the avocado category."

M&M Farm Inc., Miami, and some of its growers grow the Brooks Late variety.

"Mine go there, and we wish we had more to send to Brooks," said Manny Hevia Jr., M&M's secretary-treasurer. "Pal Brooks (Brooks' founder) knows how to market them. A lot of my growers that come here for every other variety, I told them to take them to Pal because he does a good job with them. I have a lot of respect for and consider Pal a friend."

Growers bank on low-fat

Excerpts from a 5/30/11 article in The Packer by Doug Ohlemeier


Marketing avocados that are lower in fat and cholesterol helps Florida grower-shippers increase demand, shippers say.
Marketers point to their fruit's health benefits. Studies have shown that Florida's green-skinned avocados are low in fat, a little lighter in calories and rich in vitamin A and potassium.

During the 1990s, Brooks Tropicals, LLC. started marketing varieties containing 30 to 50% less fat and 35% fewer calories than their California competitors. In 2001, Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks introduced its SlimCado line.

Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management, said he's optimistic that consumers may be starting to really change their behavior.

Recent news articles have shown that consumers who want to eat healthier are incrementally closing the gap between what they say they want to eat and what they actually consume.

Healthy-option menus - containing items with less than 500 calories - at restaurants such as Applebee's and Denny's have increased to about 8% of those chains' revenue, Brindle said.

He said demand was nonexistent a year or two ago and that it's encouraging that demand for lower-calorie foods is driving restaurants to offer more healthy entrees.

"To me, that means people are putting more interest in what they eat," Brindle said. "That naturally lends itself to eating more fruits and vegetables. By doing that, they're looking for different fruits and vegetables to pique their interest and bring into their diets. Every step of the way, whether with tropicals or particularly SlimCados, which still provide the nutritional benefits of an avocado but with less fat and calories, Florida avocados can have a very good role in that."

Growers eye higher volumes

Excerpts from a 5/30/11 article in The Packer by Doug Ohlemeier


A large crop will allow stronger promotions

After successive years of shorter than normal crops, Florida avocado growers expect the new season to bring regular volume.

The 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons saw crops of 914,000 bushels and 855,000 bushels, respectively, less than the typical season production of nearly 1 million bushels.

Because of extreme January and February cold, the 2010-11 season saw smaller production and shipments ending earlier than normal, growers said. The cold temperatures cut yields and delayed volume, similar to what occurred with other Florida crops such as tomatoes. That scenario produced higher prices and fewer retail promotions.

Conversely, grower-shipper estimates predict this season's crop will be 20% bigger than last year's, said Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management for Brooks Tropicals, LLC. He added that 2011-12 should bring a 1.2 million bushel harvest.

"All of the customers we have talked with are very excited about the promotional opportunities that will be available this year if we have a normal crop," Brindle said in mid-May. "They just can't wait for the season to get started."

Although growers usually start harvesting small quantities in late May, regular harvesting typically begins in early to mid-June with bigger commercial retail-promotable volumes commencing in late June.

A large July crop should makes for strong promotions, Brindle said. Retail customers plan to promote Florida avocados throughout July and August, the months that typically see the largest season volumes, he said.

With a larger crop, growers and retailers should look for more month-long promotions. Brindle said 2007-08 was the last year the industry had enough volume to support such volumes.

Brooks plans to ship around 500,000 bushels this season, up from last season's 410,000 bushels.

Florida avocados get strong retail support

Excerpts from a 5/30/11 article in The Packer by Doug Ohlemeier


Florida avocados travel throughout the U.S. and Canada and have become increasingly more popular even with West Coast shoppers.

Although the Southeast and Northeast remain the strongest buying regions for Florida avocados, Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management for Brooks Tropicals, LLC., said the grower-shipper sells significant volume to West Coast retailers.

An efficient hydro cooling system removes field heat and provides Brooks' avocados enough shelf life to sip as far west as California, Washington and Oregon, Brindle said.

Additionally, West Coast buyers remain more health conscious, Brindle said. And marketing avocados that possess less fat and fewer calories represent a strong step into the market, he added.