Caribbean Produce Exchange, Inc. (CPE), the leading Puerto Rico premiere distributor of fresh produce and consumer products, joined forces with a group of local farmers to export a container filled with fresh fruits, plantains and other “Son de Aquí” local products with the goal of bringing hope and solidarity to the Puerto Rican and Hispanic communities of South Bronx affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will share this produce with our colleagues at Baldor and with people living in the South Bronx. So many of our neighbors hail from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. It is heartwarming to know that people can be so generous during a time of crisis and uncertainty.”
As part of CPE’s social commitment and mission to nurture families with high quality foods, 16,000 pounds of local fresh fruit and produce, including pineapples from Manatí, Santa Isabel papayas, and Guánica green plantains, arrived yesterday afternoon from Puerto Rico to Baldor Specialty Foods’ facility in the South Bronx. This pledge will be distributed to senior citizens, low-income families and community centers that serve vulnerable populations in the city, according to the company through a partnership with City Harvest. In addition, employees who work as first-line responders for Baldor, as well as other first-responders will also be receiving fresh produce as part of this donation. “Given the spread COVID-19 has had in New York City and its health and socio-economic impact on low-income families, we wanted to extend our support and solidarity by integrating Puerto Rican tropical fruits, with all its flavors and freshness as part of our social commitment efforts. This initiative has been possible thanks to several companies that immediately agreed to be a part of the mission and share hope with our brothers in New York who are facing the ravages of this pandemic as well as support from the New York State Office of Trade and Tourism in Puerto Rico,” said Ángel Santiago, president and CEO of CPE.
The container, provided and shipped from San Juan, Puerto Rico by Crowley Logistics, which is the island’s longest serving US shipping and logistics solutions company as part of Crowley Maritime, Corp., also included a variety of Wana Bana tropical fruit purées ideal for children, senior citizens and people with diabetic conditions, as these products are 100% natural, pasteurized and sugar free, allowing for non-refrigerated storage. The container arrived on the container ship MV Taíno in Jacksonville, Florida this week and was immediately trucked into New York City.
“Crowley has always strived to help people in the communities in which we live, work and serve, and this partnership continues the longstanding commitment by the company and our employees,” said Sal Menoyo, Crowley Logistics Vice President for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. “We know we all need to work together to help each other in response to COVID-19, so it was our pleasure to transport the donated fruits and produce from CPE to Baldor Foods on our LNG-powered ship, MV Taíno from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland,” he added.
Baldor Specialty Foods, headquartered in the South Bronx, is one of the largest importers and distributors of fresh produce and specialty foods in the Northeast. Baldor Cares, the company’s social responsibility platform, works with a wide array of non-profit entities such as “City Harvest” in New York, to provide food for hundreds of thousands of citizens in need throughout the Tri-State area annually.
“We are grateful at Baldor Specialty Foods for the kind gesture of Caribbean Produce to send to us a shipment of delicious fruit from Puerto Rico,” said Thomas McQuillan, Vice President, Strategy, Culture and Sustainability. “We will share this produce with our colleagues at Baldor and with people living in the South Bronx. So many of our neighbors hail from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. It is heartwarming to know that people can be so generous during a time of crisis and uncertainty.”
During natural disasters in Puerto Rico, CPE has always been very active offering its help and solidarity to families and communities in need. In 2017, CPE joined forces with the American Red Cross to distribute millions of pounds of food to more than 100,000 hurricane-affected families on the Island. Since the beginning of 2020, the company has been supporting families impacted by earthquakes and tremors in the South and Southwest region of Puerto Rico, distributing food supplies, providing volunteer labor, mental and physical health support professionals, as well as other resources to alleviate families impacted by this emergency.
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, CPE has been helping farmers sell their products including fruits, vegetables, dairy products and protein throughout non-traditional channels and other platforms, as a consequence of the quarantine lockdown and curfew ordered by the local government. The lockdown closed schools and cafeterias as well as restaurants and hundreds of food service locations that have been forced to close temporarily also. All of this has impacted the harvests and sales of fresh produce on the Island. According to Santiago, this support program to farmers has yielded in opening doors and providing effective solutions for fresh produce placement in new trade channels.
“We want to thank our allies in this initiative for helping us bring the flavors, colors and freshness of our farms to the Bronx area at a time when these communities are experiencing an unprecedented crisis. Given the challenges we are facing with the Coronavirus, keeping our citizens properly nourished can help strengthen their immune systems and this is a top priority. Thanks to this phenomenal synergy along with Baldor Foods, Crowley Maritime, and the New York State Office of Trade and Tourism in Puerto Rico we have been able to bring hope, strength and embrace our Puerto Rican brothers in New York with genuine solidarity,” concluded Santiago.
About Caribbean Produce Exchange:
Caribbean Produce Exchange (CPE) is the largest produce distributor in Puerto Rico with 60 years of experience in managing food safety for a wide array of produce, eggs and highly perishable products. CPE is the only Puerto Rican company recognized as a Blue Book Trading Member since 1984, a consecutive 36-year tenure, and the only company outside of US and Canada to hold such a longstanding record. It is the first company in the Caribbean region to ever receive USDA’s Agricultural Best Practices Certification.
Its world-class portfolio includes leading brands of fruits, vegetables, cereals, organic, dairy and frozen items as well as other high-quality consumer products. CPE’s services also include fresh produce supply chain management, pre-cut fresh food processing, packaging and distribution of local produce, logistics, marketing and planning services.