Although delayed by Florida’s unseasonably cold weather, J&C Enterprises Inc., Miami, will help meet a growing demand for U.S.-grown tropical fruit.

“We had frost on the ground as late as the first week in March,” said Peter Leifermann, sales and category manager. “While a lot of our crops are delayed, we do expect to have crops returning from all our tropical specialties.”

Leifermann said J&C has just started picking mamey mangan, which will be down by about 60% this year. The company is also moving tai guava, a white-fleshed guava that he said is coming on now in better volumes.

“Every year the push for healthier eating and for true ingredients, and for local product, gets larger and larger,” he said. “We offer domestic tropicals and there is no other place in the U.S. that you can get domestically grown tropical produce.”

Leifermann said J&C is expecting to begin picking Florida-grown leeches, mangoes, avocados and passion fruit by late May, and star fruit in late June.

Caribbean business

On the offshore front, Leifermann said that the company’s two Haitian packinghouses are getting U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified for the Haitian mango season.

Leifermann said damage to packinghouses has been repaired, but volumes will be down by about half as a result of the country’s Jan. 12 earthquake.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, J&C will increase imports of Dominican quenepas or mamoncillo, which will arrive in mid-May, Costa Rican pineapples and rambutan and Brazilian papayas.

Of the quenepas, Leifermann noted its growing mainstream appeal.

“It’s got appeal as a specialty retail item and in ethnic markets, both Asian and Latin,” he said.