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“The charge is on to put more fruits and vegetables on plates,” said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Brooks Tropicals, a leading grower-shipper of tropical fruits and vegetables headquartered Homestead, FL. “It’s not just larger portions of side-dish standbys: we’re branching out. Enter ‘tropicals,’ which are enticing their way to the family’s dinner table with great exotic tastes.”

She added that it is not only taste that is driving tropical fruits and vegetables into shopping carts, but the discovery of big pluses on the nutritional side.

palstarfruitNeal ‘Pal’ Brooks, president and owner of Brooks Tropicals proudly displays a starfruit tree on Pine Island, FL.“The ‘Red’ in its name, ‘Caribbean Red’ papayas hints of benefits beyond being nutritionally dense,” said Ms. Ostlund. “This red color fruit is lycopene-rich which can reduce the risk of several types of cancers, most notably prostate cancer.”

Brooks Tropicals is broadly focused on an overall tropical produce line from the Americas. The company specializes in papayas, Florida avocados, starfruit, limes and Uniq Fruit.

“We grow our Caribbean Red papayas in Belize, and we also offer Solo papayas from Brazil and green-or cooking-papayas, also from Belize. In the spring, it’s papayas at Brooks Tropicals. We’re ramping up 30 percent more volumes of our Caribbean Red with new fields having come onboard.

Tourists aren’t the only ones loving the warm Florida weather this year. Brooks Tropicals’ starfruit also love it, and the crop has benefited greatly from the warm Florida winter this year.

“Our ‘SlimCado’ avocados won’t come into season until June, but they are also digging the warmth,” added Ms. Ostlund.

As a grower, packer and shipper, Brooks Tropicals strives to carry the best in tropical fruits and vegetables. For over 85 years the company has grown and/or imported tropicals from the Americas. Besides papayas, avocados and starfruit, the company’s product line includes Persian Limes, Uniq Fruit, coconuts, water coconuts, aloe, boniato, calabaza, chayote, dragonfruit, eddo, ginger, guava, hot peppers, kumquats, lychees, malanga, mammy, passion fruit, plantains, sugar cane, yams and yuca.

“Our specialty tropical produce items are grown, shipped, stored and food safety audited every step of the way,” Ms. Ostlund noted.

The company’s packing and distribution facilities in Belize and in Florida have continually achieved exceptional scores on food safety audits conducted by Primus Labs, an independent third-party auditor. Ms. Ostlund said that these audits are done on a regular basis and are an important part of Brooks Tropicals’ food safety program.

“Comprehensive food safety programs have also been implemented in our growing and harvesting operations,” said Ms. Ostlund. “Our fields and harvesting crews received high scores on third-party audits.

“Just like the consumer, we at Brooks Tropicals are into new tropical items such as dragonfly and lychees,” Ms. Ostlund continued. “This is a win-win for retailers; stocking new tropical items drives interest and sales.”