A leading Michigan fruit and vegetable grower and distributor has created a new division to grow its Mexican imports.


Hudsonville-based Superior Sales Inc. announced in January the creation of Nogales, Ariz.-based Superior/South, said Brian LaForest, a salesman for the company.


Superior has been importing grapes from the Sonora growing region of Mexico since 1998, LaForest said. Mexican vegetables followed in 2002.


Despite that track record, when customers or potential customers thought of Superior, it was the Wolverine State, not Mexico, that came to mind, LaForest said.


“So many people know Superior as a Michigan-based grower, that’s all they think of us as,” he said. “This gives us a little different identity for what we’re doing (in Mexico).”


LaForest is joined on the Nogales sales desk by Steve Murphy and Omar Castillo, he said. While LaForest is heading up the Superior/South division, he retains his old title of manager of Superior’s grape and tree fruit programs.


For the time being, Superior/South will continue to ship Mexican product under the Superior brand name, LaForest said. But new packaging and labels are on the horizon, he said.


Other changes will come with the creation of Superior/South, LaForest said.


“The goal is to expand shipments, customers and our commodity base,” he said. “We’re looking to grow.”