by Christina DiMartino | May 26, 2014
"We are headed into the middle of our summer season with great lime and mango programs from Mexico," said Ronnie Cohen, vice president of sales for Vision Import Group, headquartered in River Edge, NJ.
"We expect good volumes and high quality on both items. We got through the earlier lime shortage and are now into new production areas. Prices are down significantly and leveling off to more normal seasonal pricing than we've seen in the past few months."
Cohen was referring to a period of six to seven weeks early in the growing season when weather issues caused lower production rates in Mexico.
Because limes are such an integral part of Mexican cuisine, most of what was produced during that period remained in the country, which drove prices up in the United States.
Cohen also pointed out that about 99 percent of the limes that are sold in the U.S. come from Mexico.
Vision Import Group shares unified national distribution with Vision Produce Company in Los Angeles.
While they are separate companies and they do business in slightly different ways, being united enables them to market their popular brands nationwide.
Vision Import Group markets products to customers east of the Mississippi River, and Vision Produce Co. handles the western portion of the nation.
The brands that both companies market include "Van Gogh" mangos as well as lime labels "Mojito," "Havana" and "Mr. Squeeze." Vision Produce Co. also sells limes under the "Bonito" and "Logger" brands in the western part of the country.
Bill Vogel, president and chief executive officer of Vision Produce Co., is a partner along with Cohen and Raul Millan, who is executive vice president of Vision Import Group.
The company maintains an office in Pharr, TX, which is used for quality control and distribution.
It is operated under the Vision Import Group banner.
It also recently opened a facility in Lakeland, FL, which is managed by Bruce Letchworth.
Cohen said that both Vision Import Group and Vision Produce Co. are promoting their value-added limes in both one-pound sleeves and two-pound bags under the "Mojito" label.
"These high-graphic packages target consumers whose needs are grab-and-go types of products," said Cohen. "We are currently targeting some smaller markets to test them, and plan to then break out into larger markets and formats later in the year."
Cohen noted that the company has plans to expand its New Jersey office, which will call for additional personnel to be added to its staff.
"We will also be adding to our existing commodity base," he said. "This plan is still in motion and we believe this goal will be reached during the second half of this year."
Vision Import's two primary commodities — limes and mangoes — are produced by grower-partners around the world who are all food-safety certified and have proper state-of-the-art facilities.
"The cold-storage facilities near the ports that we import into across the country also have food-safety programs in place," added Cohen.
"Representatives from our company make numerous visits to our grower-partners throughout the year to ensure that all the facilities are third-party certified and that the warehouse programs are up to date and maintained."