Two south Florida importers are partnering to source, grow, pack, ship and distribute papaya.

HLB and Southern Specialties start papaya marketing venture

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Southern Specialties Inc. and Plantation, Fla.-based HLB Tropical Food USA, Inc. have formed HLB Specialties LLC.

The new company plans to grow and ship papaya from Brazil, Ecuador, Belize, Mexico and other Central and South America regions, according to a news release.

Southern Specialties, which grows and imports green beans, baby vegetables, asparagus, berries, peppers, tomatoes and lettuce from the U.S., Canada, Central America, and South America, will bring its Pompano Beach, McAllen, Texas, and Los Angeles importing facilities to the venture that has HLB adding facilities in the same cities plus San Francisco and Seattle.

HLB Tropical Food is a leading marketer of Brazilian golden papaya and the formosa variety grown in Central America and Mexico.

Homero Levy de Barros, HLB Tropical Food’s president, said he and Robert Colescott, Southern Specialties’ president and chief executive officer, determined that combining the strengths of the two companies would create better value for their customers.

“The joint venture will automatically offer our clients a logistical advantage, since we’ll be able to consolidate more items than previously possible,” Levy de Barros said in the release.

Colescott said it’s the right time to promote the benefits of papayas.

“Here is a fruit that has it all: flavor, color and tremendous nutritional value,” he said in the release. “We expect to see significant growth in the category and the company. I have great respect for the job Homero and his team has done with this product. They have set the bar for marketing papaya in this country and Europe.”

HLB Specialties plans to have a booth at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2010 in Orlando, Fla.