Agritrade Farms is Working to Grow Okra into the Next Big Thing in Produce
- by Kyle Braver
DEERFIELD BEACH, FL - Agritrade Farms has hit a home run with Gumbo-Licous brand okra this season. The grower is enamored with the potential of this staple crop from the American South, Southern Asia and Africa. Could it emerge as the next big name superfood in the American consumer market much in the same way that kale gained national notoriety for its range of significant health benefits? Agritrade is looking to use okra's growing superfood status as a way to turn this ethnic favorite into a category with nation-wide appeal.
“We think we've found the next big thing in our Gumbo-Licious brand okra,” Paul Boris, President, shared with me. “While okra's appeal has traditionally been limited largely to the American South, Southern Asia and Africa, we envision this changing over the next several years as more people wake up to the tremendous array of health benefits which okra provides. Going forward we will be focusing heavily on working with our retail partners in order to communicate these benefits to the American consumer while continuing to strive to raise the highest quality, best tasting okra on the market.”
Agritrade Farms grows its Gumbo-Licious brand okra year-round on its farms in Honduras and the Dominican Republic. Together with year-round availability, the grower sees its policy of constant innovation as key to growing the category.
“Whether it's eliminating the use of pesticides on our Honduran fields, or experimenting with new types of packaging in order to extend shelf life and eliminate shrink, we're constantly innovating to provide a better product for our retail partners,” Paul explained. “We have developed some of the most stringent post-harvest practices in the industry. For example, in addition to pre-cooling, we are implementing extended shelf life box liners and some other proprietary practices. Once pre-cooled, the cold chain is never broken from our packing houses right on through to the trucks loading at our warehouse in Florida, ensuring the freshness to the end user.”
Agritrade also has a new retail pack available for distribution this year. This pack will be available in either 1lb or 2lb sizes, both featuring top-seal MAP technology in order to maximize the shelf life of the product. “In trials, we’ve been able to obtain over a week of extra shelf life to the product!”
How big okra could become is still unknown, but a year-round superfood crop backed by the talent of Agritrade's skilled growing and marketing team should certainly be a tantalizing value proposition for the members of our industry. I will look forward to watching how this category grows as we move into the future.