(Sept. 11, 11:45 a.m.) Progreso Produce Ltd. has expanded its mango and sweet onion programs through an exclusive marketing agreement with Growers Alliance Corp.

Curtis DeBerry, owner of Boerne, Texas-based Progreso, said his company will handle sales and marketing in the U.S., while newly formed Growers Alliance, Vista, Calif., will be responsible for establishing export deals with growers in Central America and South America.

Growers Alliance is headed by partners Stephen Stamps and Will Cavan. While Stamps is an investor who is new to the industry, Cavan said he has more than 20 years’ experience in produce and most recently was executive director of the International Mango Organization.

Cavan said Progreso’s role as a Disney Garden mango shipper was a key factor in forming the partnership. Cavan said that while mangoes have long been popular with certain ethnic groups in the U.S., the commodity has growth potential with average American consumers.

“There’s a certain segment of the population we have to go after,” he said, “and Disney gives Progreso a tremendous advantage.”

Mangoes from Peru are expected to arrive in December. Progreso, which already sells Mexican and domestic mangoes from March through September, also plans to source from Brazil.

“We were a year-round mango shipper in a small way,” DeBerry said. “This will make us a bigger player in that deal.”

DeBerry said imported mangoes will be shipped in the Disney Garden label, while all other commodities involved — asparagus, avocados, bananas, ginger, strawberries and sweet onions — will be packed under Progreso’s Southern Exposure label.

DeBerry said Progreso initially plans to move product through ports in Pompano Beach, Fla., and Long Beach, Calif.

He said Sept. 10 that the first sweet onion imports will arrive in early October, and product from Peru and Ecuador will give Progreso year-round volume. The company already sources sweet onions from Mexican and domestic growers from February through September.

DeBerry said Progreso expects to start receiving specialty bananas from Honduras by late September. That also will be a year-round deal.

“They’re small, super-sweet bananas,” he said. “It’s brand new, not only to us but many markets.”

Pact gives Progreso Produce more mangoes, onions
Progreso Produce Ltd. plans to bring in mangoes from Peru in December. Progreso, which already sells Mexican and domestic mangoes from March through September, also plans to source from Brazil. “We were a year-round mango shipper in a small way,” says company owner Curtis DeBerry. “This will make us a bigger player in that deal.”