(Feb. 26) Retailers and importers have the opportunity to meet with growers of Guatemalan tropical fruits, mini vegetables, berries and other items at the Agritrade Expo & Conference March 19-20.

The show, in its 14th year, is expected to attract more than 1,500 attendees and 125 U.S. retailers to Antigua, Guatemala.

“Food safety is very important to us, and these products have undergone very strict food safety practices and standards,” said Estuardo Castro, president of Agritrade. “We will have GlobalGAP representatives at the expo.”

Every other year, Agritrade brings produce exporters from Guatemala and other Central American countries. The Expo is sponsored by Agexport, the Guatemalan Exporters Association, Guatemala City. The association’s members grow non-traditional agricultural products, which includes all organic produce, but excludes bananas and coffee.

“Considering the present world economic crisis, we are happy to say we will have 122 produce stands and 1,500 visitors, and 125 U.S. retailers and buyers have confirmed their attendance,” Castro said. “We also have scheduled trips to our production fields, facilities and packing warehouses.”

Agritrade will present 14 seminars and U.S. industry leaders have already confirmed their attendance as keynote speakers.

Robert Colescott, president and chief executive officer of Southern Specialties, Pompano Beach, Fla., is a featured speaker, scheduled to present “Grower Exporter Strategies for a Global Market and Doing Business in the 21st Century.”

The company imports fruits and vegetables from Guatemala, Mexico and other Latin American countries, including French beans, sugar snap and snow peas, mangoes, asparagus and berries.

Because of an increase in demand for Guatemalan produce, Agritrade is not only a promotional event — it also provides growers access to other markets, Castro said.

“We will continue to develop the varieties and maintain the volumes that our buyers are looking for,” he said.

Guatemala exports snow peas, sugar peas, French beans, papaya, mangoes, Persian limes, melons, berries and other fresh produce.