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Almost 30 years ago, Willy Pardo started selling exotic and tropical produce from the back of his truck in Miami to neighbors who wanted items that were staples of their diets but not always easy to find in supermarkets. Now W.P. Produce has grown into a full-line purveyor of tropical and exotic items, has recently expanded its lineup to include more common commodities and just last month opened a wholesale location on the Miami Produce Market.

WP-2The W.P. Produce team of Desiree P. Morales, Willy Pardo, George Herrera, Zulema Munos, Wilson Dominguez and Vladimir Verdecia. (Photo courtesy of W.P.)Headed by Mr. Pardo and his daughter, Vice President Desirée P. Morales, W.P. Produce and its new Fresh Depot outlet on the market provides one-stop shopping for chainstores, restaurants and independent markets.

“Because of Fresh Depot, we’ve added Bell peppers and onions, cabbage, lettuce, garlic, limes — Fresh Depot is demanding that. The people who go there want to buy the lettuce and tomatoes and onions along with the tropical. We’ve been wanting to do this for about a year. The opportunity presented itself and at the perfect time,” Ms. Morales said. “We’ve become more of a one-stop shop for the volume items, not just tropicals — tropicals are our main thing but we’re starting to expand on other lines. The way the economy is, the way the market has driven everyone to work closer to their numbers — not making a large profit off of anything — you have to work on volume.“

Fresh Depot has fast become a favorite of Miami chefs and independent market owners.

“They’re buying straight from the importer and they’re getting sale items all the time,” Ms. Morales said. “Our focus at Fresh Depot is to target the smaller retail chains and restaurants to push sale items. Since we are the importer if there’s a lot of plantains or a very good price on plantains or tomatoes or cabbage — everything we currently import we are going to also offer at Fresh Depot but at a very good price. If there’s something we’re heavy in, we’ll push those items at wholesale prices.”

The extra sales have boosted volume but also visibility.

“W.P. Produce is literally about four blocks off the market, but we’re not in the actual produce market so having a presence there is fantastic. The customers go directly to that strip that we don’t service now because W.P. services more the supermarket chains and DCs and other wholesalers out of Miami. So far it’s going great, we’re opening up at 4 a.m. and close about noon and it’s been really busy. We just did this last month, so it will start picking up, especially now with the avocados — this is our high season from now until mid-April.”

W.P. specializes in green-skinned avocados from the Dominican Republic and that season is just ramping up.

“We’re expecting larger volume than last year so that’s always a good thing,” Ms. Morales said.