In late April, Florida-based tropical produce importer Turbana Corporation announced that it had expanded its tropicals programme to include seven new items.
Groovy Coconut, Aji Cachucha, Avocado, Ginger, Habanero Pepper, Malanga Amarilla and Sour Orange were all added to Turbana's range, which, combined with existing tropicals (Aloe Vera, Batata, Calabaza, Chayote, Dry Coconut, Malanga Coco, Malanga Lila, Malanga Blanca, Yellow Yam, Yuca, Ñame, and Eddo), offered retailers a total of nineteen unique choices that Turbana noted were "fundamental to the tropical selection of any store".
Americafruit spoke with Marion Tabard, Marketing Director of Turbana Corporation, to gain a little insight into the expansion of the range.
Where are your newly available tropical products sourced from?
MT: Avocados come from the Dominican Republic, so are the Aji Cachuchas and Habanero Peppers, Malanga Amarilla's are sourced from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Mexico, and Sour Oranges also come from the Dominican Republic.
Is the expanded line a result of growing demand for tropical products in the US?
MT: Yes it is, due to the change in the American demographic landscape.
Hispanics and Asian Americans now represent 52m and 18m people respectively in the US. They are experiencing the highest growth rate – 142 per cent for Hispanics and 167 per cent for Asians between 2010 and 2050 is expected in the country. Our tropical products are staples for these communities and Turbana is an expert in these particular demographics.
In addition, white Americans are now more exposed to fusion cuisine, and are therefore more eager to discover new exotic flavours. They want to have access to foods that are diverse and different from typical American crops, and those that provide unique health benefits.
- Has the exotics or tropicals industry seen a tightening of belts among consumers due to the wider, ongoing economic difficulties? Or are consumers still happy to pay for what are often seen as 'luxury' purchases?"
MT: In the US, most tropicals are not considered 'luxury' purchases, rather they are staples. For example, yucca and plantain can substitute for potatoes. They are very affordable products and our tropicals programme provides the tools and expertise necessary for retailers to garner a new demographic with high buying power.