Fortunately for Central American Produce, Guatemala – where the company's radishes are grown exclusively – has an “eternal springtime” as Tom Drake, sales manager of Central American Produce puts it. “They’re susceptible to weather of course, but generally it’s excellent growing conditions.” Having a good steady supply is ideal when there’s little to no competition domestically at certain times of the year; they’ve been working with their radish grower for 40 years; it’s brought in year round. “We grow and sell a whole lot more in the fall-winter and early spring than we do the rest of the year, because the local domestic deal takes precedence in the areas where most of the radish goes,” he said.
Most popular in the northeast
The majority of the radishes get shipped to retailers in the northeast. “They’re very popular in certain areas,” said Drake. “We don’t sell many bunched radish in the south or southeast although we’re seeing a local chain that never carried bunched radish before, but does now. Maybe that’s a positive. Our volumes will adjust as we get into May and June and then June through August we’re working at minimums, but we do have a base year-round.”
Domestic program is growing
The biggest change he’s seen over the years is the advent of domestic growing regions and the demand for local produce. “When I started years ago we moved a lot more radish than we do now, especially during the spring, summer and early fall,” he said. New Jersey, Ohio, parts of Canada, New York and Pennsylvania are all areas which, he says, are now producing radishes in season. “It’s cut into the market share significantly in the last few years as the whole local program’s gotten bigger and bigger.”
Also year round green onion, leeks & radicchio program
The company's Guatemalan grower also produces three other items year-round for Central American Produce: green onions, leeks and radicchio. “His whole operation and our business is based on year-round production. For all of those items there is a natural reduction for the domestic season.” They also have a year-round mango program, presently sourcing from Nicaragua, Mexico and Guatemala.
Tricky hard squash market
There are about six weeks left in the company's hard squash program, featuring butternut and spaghetti squashes. Although they’ve been fortunate with top quality, Drake said it’s been a tough market this year because of oversupply from all producing areas. “Mexico had a very large crop and it seemed like they had plenty of supply all season. Other producers out of Honduras have had excellent production also. There’s been no shortage of hard squash and pricing has reflected that.”