Consumer and fresh products distributor Caribbean Produce Exchange Inc. announced the visit of New York State Agriculture Secretary Richard Ball to evaluate growth opportunities and validate the strategic alliance agreed between the company and the Government of New York agreed to in 2017.
The strategy seeks to achieve an increase in the commercial agricultural trade of fresh produce between both markets, company officials said.
Prior to Hurricane María, in 2017, the exchange reached more than 800,000 pounds of local agricultural products that Caribbean Produce Exchange exported to New York for distribution through various channels, with an estimated value of $450,000.
After the storm, the volume was reduced as a result of the blow Puerto Rico’s agriculture sector received. However, total exports through Caribbean Produce Exchange exceeded 200,000 pounds of products or $76,000.
With the sustained recovery of the agricultural sector, the company seeks to increase the volume of exports again with products that can be sent to New York year-round, said Ángel Santiago, CEO of Caribbean Produce Exchange.
“We’re very excited about the visit of Commissioner Ball and his team, as it will allow them to evaluate first-hand the fresh products in all its stages: from the visits to the farms to learn about the projects and agribusinesses, as well as through the quality control processes that we carry out at Caribbean Produce Exchange to guarantee their optimum freshness upon arrival in the New York market,” Santiago said.
“We will share data and information to strengthen this agricultural economic development collaboration for both jurisdictions to achieve exporting our products in a consistent and successful manner,” said Santiago.
During 2018 and 2019, the partnership has allowed Caribbean Produce Exchange to strengthen its relationship with the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx, considered the largest center for marketing and sale of fruits and vegetables in the U.S. mainland.
The agreement has facilitated the development of relationships with new customers and potential distribution channels, including Fresh Direct, a web-based food sales firm.
Fresh Direct buys food globally and their need for tropical fruits and vegetables is increasing every day, Santiago said.
“In our analysis, Puerto Rico’s papaya has great potential to be sold year-round as well as watermelon, tomato and mango, which could have windows of opportunities opening and closing throughout the year,” Santiago said.
“At Caribbean Produce Exchange we invest all kinds of resources to support our agribusinesses, refining processes in the Research and Development segment to optimize the export of our products with the specifications required by the client and federal requirements,” he said.
Caribbean Produce Exchange has supported its farmer partners by providing equipment, information and training resources to provide New York-based customers with fruit harvests that fully meet world-class standards, he said.