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HLB looking to educate buyers about Formosa papayas

HLB Specialties, a leading papaya importer and distributor based in Pompano Beach, FL, has launched a campaign to educate buyers about Formosa papayas, also known as Tainung papayas.

As the company approaches its 25th year in existence, the challenge of educating buyers and consumers about their products still remains, according to Sales Director Lorenz Hartmann de Barros, and HLB Specialties hopes to simplify customers' lives by turning them into informed purchasers.

HLB Specialties' efforts are concentrated around electronic mailings to produce buyers, Facebook and Twitter updates to their followers, and educational material on its newly revamped web site, www.hlbspecialties.com.

Formosa no-labelSpecifically, the campaign focuses on the difference between the Formosa papayas, which is of the Tainung variety, and the Maradol variety. Even though they are commonly referred to as the same fruit, they are different papaya varieties with distinct characteristics.

"Many of our clients use the terms Maradol and Formosa interchangeably, possibly not knowing that there is a difference between the two," Hartmann de Barros noted.

Most notably, Formosa papayas are ready to eat when still mostly green on the outside, with only two or three stripes of yellow. Maradol papayas, on the other hand, are usually consumed when completely yellow.

"Our clients think that the skin of the Formosa needs to be fully yellow before it can be eaten, and that is incorrect," said Hartmann de Barros.

In fact, "some research suggests that the more the Formosa ripens, the less sweet it will be," added Melissa Hartmann de Barros, director of communications for HLB Specialties. "Another contrast is the aroma of the fruit. Formosa papayas have a sweet yet mild flavor, no aftertaste, and most importantly, no strong smell, which is often the reason why many people don't like papayas, because they never had Formosa papayas before."

The Formosa papaya gets its name from the source of its seeds, the island of Taiwan, which was a Portuguese colony and historically called Formosa. Formosa papayas for the U.S. and Canadian market are grown in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, while the Maradol comes mostly from Mexico.

The Formosa boxes weigh 32 pounds and sizes range from 8-12 count. HLB Specialties sources Formosa papayas from Guatemala and Mexico year-round.

The Mexican Formosa is available from HLB's distribution center in McAllen, TX, which is merely hours from the growing area, ensuring that clients receive very fresh fruit with up to 25 days of shelf life.

The Guatemalan Formosa is available from HLB's headquarters in Pompano Beach, FL. Other distribution centers are located in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

HLB Specialties also distributes Brazilian Golden papayas, Guatemalan rambutans, avocados, limes and mangos year-round from different countries.