Expanding melon sales means a western move for Fyffes Inc.

The Dublin, Ireland-based grower-shipper, distributor and marketer of U.S., Central America and South America produce has doubled its cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon volume and in growing its sales, is opening a West Coast office.

In early December, Fyffes plans to open an importing office in two stalls on the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market.

Though it occasionally shipped melons to West Coast retailers, Fyffes didn’t have a large West Coast presence and the office should help it more consistently supply fruit to its retail customers, said Enda Walsh, the Miami-based president of Fyffes’ U.S. operations.

The Los Angeles market operation plans to provide fruit to market wholesalers but concentrate on import sales, Walsh said.

Fyffes increases melon importing and distributionFyffes’ increased melon sales follow its 2008 acquisition of Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Sol Group Marketing Co.

Then, Sol, a Honduran melon producer, marketed 7 million cartons of melons a year, Walsh said. After Fyffes’ purchase, Sol bought some Guatemalan farms and set-up watermelon growing operations in Florida and South Carolina. This upcoming winter offshore season, Fyffes expects to market 14 million cartons from Guatemala and Honduras, Walsh said.

“While some of our competitors are publicly announcing they’re decreasing their melon volume, Fyffes is increasing,” Walsh said.

While he characterized overall offshore volume remaining similar, Walsh said the deal has some stressors.

“The (offshore) melon deal has been difficult these last couple of years,” he said. “Along with a lot of the produce industry, we are facing the same issues. Our costs have gone up. We’re not able to pass those costs on to retailers. Prices have been holding firm.”

A leading European produce shipper and marketer that co-owns banana and pineapple importer and marketer Turbana Corp., Coral Gables, Fla., Fyffes’ expects to receive 100 containers a week of melons at its Los Angeles port as well as other arrivals at Freeport, Texas, Wilmington, Del., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where most of its fruit arrives, Walsh said. 

In addition to its 14 million cartons of melons, Fyffes also plans to market 40 million cartons of bananas and 10 million cartons of pineapple.

Fyffes concentrates on the production, procurement, shipping, ripening, distribution and marketing of bananas, pineapples and melons.