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Continental Fresh thrives as the main player of Honduran vegetables

It may be mid-winter on the calendar, but attendees stopping by Continental Fresh at Booth #619 at the 20th annual SEPC Southern Exposure, to be held March 7 - 9 at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort in Orlando, FL, will learn that there is a year-round abundance of farm-fresh vegetables to be had, no matter the season.

2019-season Albert Perez looks over just-harvested cucumbers, zucchini and butternut bins at Continental Fresh’s Comayagua, Honduras, farms.In late December, Continental Fresh began its winter program of Honduran vegetables. Coconut Grove, FL-based Continental Fresh is the largest shipper of cucumbers, zucchini, butternut and other winter squashes. All of its products are PrimusLabs GFS certified and are packed under its premium Atlas Fresh label.

“January gave us a very favorable start to the season,” said Albert Perez, managing member of the company. “On a recent visit of our farming operations in Comayagua, Honduras, I saw that we had been blessed with the four greatest things you could have in agriculture: Great weather, great quality, great yields and a great market!”

Perez noted that in late January markets declined sharply as a combination of good weather in Mexico and a polar vortex in the U.S. made for a perfect storm of high supplies and low demand. As February began, both demand and supply were finding their equilibrium making for great promotional opportunities.

Honduran cucumber quality and availability has emerged as a viable and reliable supply for retail and foodservice customers east of the Mississippi River, Perez noted.

“Many customers are realizing that it is important to have access to some offshore product in order to ensure uninterrupted supplies to their customers,” Perez said. “While Mexico continues to be the main source of vegetables to the U.S., it is precisely its size that makes it a risky proposition to put all of one’s eggs in its basket. A volume swing in Mexico can leave the U.S. market reeling for product.”

Among the issues facing Mexico are hurricanes, cold fronts, fuel shortages, strikes and border crossing issues, Perez said. “Transportation out of Nogales, AZ, has also had its periodic challenges with freight costs skyrocketing without much notice,” he said.

Honduran product entering through South Florida ports has significant freight advantages up the Eastern Seaboard. Also, some of the heartier items, such as butternut and other winter squashes, can be shipped by sea to ports in Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York, Perez said.

“Among our most popular items are our butternut bins for processing,” Perez said. “We pack a 60 inch (2,100-pound) bin with the finest Jumbo and XL butternut we can grow. The rise of so many new value-added forms of marketing squash, including halved, cubed, noodled, rice and blended, has increased demand for our Atlas variety product.”

In 2019, Continental Fresh is gearing up to celebrate its 12th anniversary. Part of the company’s success can be attributed to the fact that it is made up of veterans of the import industry.

“Our team has been labeled ‘The Import Experts’ and I have more than 30 years’ experience importing from Latin America,” said Perez. We provide our customers with accurate market information and advise on the best moments to promote.”

Continental Fresh also specializes in mangos from all countries and soon will commence its Frontera label program of Honey and Red variety mangos from Mexico.