Monthly Archives: April 2020

“Every week, we have to adapt to new carriers and transit routes”

Nowadays, consumers are used to being able to buy many fruit and vegetable items all year long. Although in-season much is grown domestically, some fruit and vegetable varieties are almost exclusively imported. Papayas are one of these items and 97.7 percent of consumption is grown outside the US, according to the USDA. What is the impact of the coronavirus on availability of tropical and exotic items that are mostly sourced in South America?

Papayas from Brazil.

Air freighters from Brazil
“Our large papaya imports from Guatemala and Mexico are not significantly affected as they arrive by ocean and truck,” says Andres Ocampo with HLB Specialties. However, for papayas from Brazil it’s a different story. “Until last week, we were bringing them in by air.” The company had been able to fly its products on – sometimes empty – passenger planes. “With the number of passenger flights continuing to be reduced, HLB Specialties is now being forced to switch to freighters. The cargo airline HLB has been using flies from the State of Sao Paulo in Brazil to Miami on a regular basis, about five times a week. “We’ve been using this alternative to maintain fruit incoming, albeit at a higher cost,” said Ocampo. “We have also explored charter flights from Brazil that exclusively fly our product, but the distance (fuel needs) makes it too expensive to absorb for the products we handle. Switching to ocean freight from Brazil is not feasible due to transit times.”

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Suppliers detail COVID-19 effect on business, outlook— Part 2

Published by: Produce Retailer

Continued …


Andres Ocampo, CEO of HLB Specialties, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said that some offshore suppliers of specialty produce have been limited by the lack of freight in passenger planes.

“For markets serviced only by passenger planes, it’s been a big blow,” Ocampo said. “For markets serviced by air freighters (those are still for the most part operational), it has been a lesser blow.”

Ocampo said some airlines have already officially canceled their flights for at least two more months, while others did so for April only.

“I expect that to keep changing and probably only start to get some normality in June, but a full service like pre-COVID 19, maybe only in the last quarter or into 2021,” Ocampo said.

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Coronavirus upends global food supply chains in latest economic shock

Published by: Reuters


In addition to the trucking problems, a sharp decline in air traffic has cut deeply into capacity to move fresh produce long distances.Slideshow (13 Images)

Andres Ocampo, chief executive of HLB Specialties LLC, a fruit importer based in Miami, Florida, relied on commercial flights to shift papayas and other produce from Brazil. Now he is buying more from Mexico and Guatemala, where goods can still be shipped by trucks.

Ocampo says volumes of the company’s imports from Brazil have dropped by 80%.

“In Europe, it’s even worse, because they don’t have a Mexico-like source for papayas,” he said.

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North America HLB Specialties LLC

3327 NW 55th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309

T +1 (954) 475 8808
F +1 (954) 475 8896

Europe HLB Tropical Food GmbH

Am Weiher 2a
65451 Kelsterbach
Germany / Bio-Zertifikat Nr.: DE-ÖKO-044

T +49-6107-98781 0
F +49-6107-98781 14