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Caribbean Produce Exchange strikes deal to export local produce to NY

Caribbean Produce Exchange Inc. announced a new commercial agreement with New York agribusinesses focused on the exchange of agricultural products.

The portfolio of products from Puerto Rico that were presented for export includes pumpkins, cabbages, peppers, different varieties of mangos, quenepas, papaya and watermelon among others.

Spearheading this initiative are watermelons and mangos which are making their way into the New York market with an estimated 100,000 lbs. of Guánica watermelons sold in the first week since their arrival, said Angel Santiago, president of CPE.

Together these collaborations are expected to generate more than $1 million in economic impact in both jurisdictions, creating opportunities for New York State retailers to carry Puerto Rico foods and expand Puerto Rico’s fresh produce market, in high demand with more than 1 million Puerto Ricans residing in New York State.

The produce containers arrive at the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx for its immediate distribution throughout various trade channels.

“This initial phase of the agreement will allow for New York trade locations to feature fresh tropical produce from Puerto Rico for all consumers to enjoy,” Santiago said.

“We plan to offer and expand our year-round produce exchange adding other agricultural categories to export and import from New York as well,” he added.

“We look forward to continue strengthening this commercial relationship looking to promote bilateral economic growth and agribusiness development in Puerto Rico and New York,” Santiago said.

Caribbean Produce, Puerto Rico’s largest produce distributor, has imported thus far as part of the agreement, 63,000 lbs. of apples from across New York, including Rome, Empire, Red Delicious, Gala, Snap Dragon and McIntosh apples from New York Apples Sales and Hudson River Fruit.

Caribbean Produce has also imported 126,000 lbs. of cabbage and 84,000 lbs. of onions, with plans to import New York-grown potatoes, carrots, turnips, beets, and more produce. CPE is currently distributing Red Jacket Orchard juice from Geneva, New York.

New York has imported 100,000 pounds of seedless watermelons from Finca González and Soto Farms in Guánica, and additional containers are planned for the coming weeks and months, as this supply rotates throughout a year-round offering.

Caribbean Produce also plans to export tropical pumpkin to New York from Finca González, as well as mangoes from Gan Eden Farm in Santa Isabel.

Angel Santiago, president of CPE. Angel Santiago, president of CPE.

Logistics were ‘critical’
The logistics to export to New York was critical in the feasibility of this project. Consistent scheduling and frequency of the cargo ships, which leave practically empty from Puerto Rico to the East Coast were factors CPE evaluated to send its produce, while importing top quality fruits and vegetables to the island.

“With millions of Boricuas in the diaspora looking to consume products from Puerto Rico, exporting our world class agricultural products has always been part of the vision of CPE since its inception foundation 58 years ago,” added Santiago.

The executive explained that the company works year-round with local agribusinesses willing to collaborate in projects for both local and export markets.

“Both the watermelon and the mango are the first products of the ‘Son de Aquí’ program to debut in New York. ‘Son de Aquí’ is an educational and promotional platform that highlight and features products and agribusinesses that proudly work their lands and harvest daily to bring the best of our agriculture to our consumers’ homes,” he said.

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