Fresh from Florida

Florida’s export business is “alive and well.”

That’s the assessment from Dan Sleep, chief of the Bureau of Strategic Development, division of marketing and development for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Consider these numbers: Exports of frozen orange juice have increased more than 22 percent in the last 10 years, while exports of grapefruit have grown an impressive 550 percent. In fact, exports of grapefruit to Korea have been increasing at a rate of 20.7 percent annually over the last decade.

“Florida is in an optimal position globally to supply an assortment of products to markets around the world,” Sleep says.

Products such as wine, blueberries and watermelon are all doing well, while countries including Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Columbia have all increased demand for Florida products in the past year.

For example, Florida exported about $4 million in fresh blueberries to Japan and Singapore in 2014.

“It’s exciting that these two Asian markets alone could potentially provide a sales growth of tens of millions over the next decade – and at 19 new jobs per million, that adds up nicely for Floridians and our economy,” Sleep says.

Joining a new promotional campaign in Japan for the first time is You/Me stores, with 104 outlets around Hiroshima. Their “Fresh From Florida” promotion plans to feature Florida blueberries and blueberry wine to kick off sales.

“Another area worth mentioning is the Caribbean.” Sleep says. “With retail partner PriceSmart leading the way, our products are finding fertile ground for sales in a dozen countries and territories in Central America and the Caribbean.”

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Sleep predicts considerable room for growth in the future.

“We have great products and a near-perfect distribution system, which is constantly being improved; we’re getting more savvy every year in how we can support our industries and more of our farmers are learning the advantages of developing supplemental markets,” he says. “I’d say the sky’s the limit.”

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