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 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


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


· 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


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


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.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New web site for Brooks Tropicals

Same great information but some added extras.

Hot off the Grill with SlimCado Avocados

Yes, that's right - SlimCado avocados hot off the grill.

For tips on grilling SlimCados and other avocado hot weather recipes check out the latest Tropical Nutrition column on our website.

Brooks Tropicals meets with publishing heavyweight, Meredith Publishing

If you've never heard of Meredith Publishing, you're not alone. But I bet that you have heard of Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle and other consumer magazines including Publix's Greenwise.

Earlier this week, our Tropical Nutrition columnist Donna Shields and I visited Meredith Publishing in Des Moines, Iowa. Unlike our visits to produce buyers at grocery stores, our meeting was entirely consumer focused.

They wanted and got story ideas, recipe ideas and the nutritional facts.

Seventeen editors, writers and testers attended the meeting (7 to 8 attendees is the norm).

As refreshments, we served chopped Caribbean Red (CR) papaya, gluten-free CR papaya bread and CR papaya relish.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Belize Fruit Packers once again superior in Food Safety.

It's another successful year for Belize Fruit Packers (BFP).

Committed to maintaining its excellent Food Safety record, BFP has yet again attained outstanding results during a food safety audit conducted by Primus Labs.

BFP is a wholly owned subsidiary of Brooks Tropicals. BFP's state-of-the-art packinghouse packs Caribbean Red and Caribbean Sunrise Papayas in Belize CA.

Audited on April 20, 2011, BFP attained a 97% outstanding score. Up two points from last year. To those familiar with food safety audits, you know gaining 2 points above the 90% mark is extremely hard work.

Congratulations to our fellow workers at BFP. Your hard work and commitment shows.