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Nothing ugli about Unity Groves starfruit and dragon fruit

Unity Groves grows and offers a full line of Florida-grown tropical fruits including a full line of Asian and Indian items. 

“Our top 10 Florida products are avocado, dragon fruit, guava, mango, mamey, lychee, longan, starfruit, sapodilla and water coconuts,” said Louie Carricarte, president of the Homestead, FL-based, company. “We also import the majority of our top 10 to offer near year-round availability.”

red-dragainRed dragon fruit from Unity Groves.The secret to the company’s success, he noted, is endless perseverance married with good relationships and treating people fairly.

“Being a family-owned business, we have always treated both our employees and our customers like family,” Carricarte said. “Having a good quality and a little bit of luck always helps, too.”

Demand for Unity’s Florida products continues to increase across the board with dragon fruit the rising star of the company.

“With our imported products, Rambutan seems to be attracting the most interest,” Carricarte said. “We are also the exclusive distributor of ugli fruit from Jamaica.”

Unity was not immune to the challenges that impacted most of the Florida growers this season — Hurricane Irma, which inflicted damage on many of its groves.

“We have worked vigorously to restore the fields and increase our acreage to maintain, and hopefully even increase, our production for 2018,” Carricarte said. “The crops look surprisingly well despite the hurricane. We have always focused on improving operations with a focus on being as environmentally friendly as possible.”

To that end, Unity is experimenting with drones this year in its maintenance operations and also expects to complete major upgrades, which involve all its lighting being converted to LED and all of its refrigeration equipment modernized to high efficiency.

This year, the company will release starfruit in a 4-count consumer size packaging. Also noteworthy is that Unity has made a major investment in a new, state-of-the-art dragon fruit line, which it expects to be finalized in June.

“We have also been working on growing limes again in Florida and are proud to announce plans to reintroduce Florida limes to the retail market in the month of June,” Carricarte said. “Florida limes are well known for their superior juice content. We currently have 60 acres in production and will continue to increase acreage annually.”

Unity is also excited about completing its acquisition of Grove Services Inc. Founded in 1966, Grove Services is a maintenance and harvesting company that manages 2,300 acres.

“The acquisition will allow us to streamline our operations while dramatically increasing production,” Carricarte said. “We continue to see more acceptance of our ethnic products in main stream America.”