Make us your home page
Instagram

Walmart's sale of Mexican strawberries angers Florida growers

Ted Campbell of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association says Walmart has insulted local growers.

Ted Campbell of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association says Walmart has insulted local growers.

PLANT CITY — The Florida Strawberry Growers Association says Walmart isn't doing enough to help local farmers even though the retailer says it's planning to boost sales of U.S. products over the next decade.

Association executive director Ted Campbell says Mexican-grown strawberries are showing up in Florida stores including the Walmart in Plant City, the winter strawberry capital of the world. The worst part, he said, is Florida growers are struggling amid low prices due to unusually warm weather.

"I understand what they're trying to do, but this is just insulting to our community that depends so much on our local crop, and that's the point I was trying to make, that this is just inappropriate," Campbell said.

About 11,000 acres of strawberries are grown in Plant City yearly.

Campbell's barbs came after Walmart executives released a statement a couple of weeks ago saying the company intended to boost sales of American-made products by $50 billion over the next 10 years.

Then that same day Campbell got word from two local growers that Mexican berries are showing up at the Plant City Walmart at 2602 James L Redman Parkway. One even sent pictures of the berries, including a shot of the "Product of Mexico" label.

Right away, Campbell called the store and its Miami import office and fired off a tersely worded letter to executives.

"Beyond the hypocrisy of your words versus actions, this is an absolute insult to your local customers," he wrote. "There is no greater disrespect to this community than bringing imported strawberries into the center of the primary domestic production area."

He included an online link that touted the retailer's U.S. products push.

On Wednesday, the Arkansas company said it turned to imported berries only because supplies of locally grown berries ran out and that the Plant City store now has Florida berries.

"Since the start of strawberry season in Florida, almost all of our strawberries sold in Florida were grown locally," spokeswoman Danit Marquardt said.

"We typically only bring non-Florida berries into Florida when demand increases beyond the supply of local growers," she continued. "Additionally, we have supported our Florida growers this season by sourcing hundreds of thousands of cases of Florida grown strawberries for Walmart stores in 15 other states."

Campbell isn't buying it and insists plenty of Florida-grown berries are available. The harvest runs Thanksgiving to Easter. He also noted that other grocers, including Sweetbay and Publix, aren't having any problems finding Florida berries.

The imported berries are also showing up at the Brandon Sam's Club, a Walmart affiliate, he said.

"This is about pricing," Campbell said.

Rich Shopes can be reached at rshopes@tampabay.com or (813) 661-2454.

Walmart's sale of Mexican strawberries angers Florida growers 02/07/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 5:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: Closing Iron Yard coding school hits area tech hard but leaders talk of options

    Business

    The coming shutdown this fall of the Iron Yard software coding school in downtown St. Petersburg — announced this month as part of a national closing of all 15 Iron Yard locations — remains a shocking event to a Tampa Bay technology community that dreams big of becoming a major player in the Southeast if not …

    In better days last fall, friends and family of graduates at The Iron Yard, based in the Station House in downtown St. Petersburg, applaud during "Demo Day" when grads of the coding school show off their skills. Despite the local success and strong job placement by the coding school, The Iron Yard is closing all of its 15 locations across the country this summer. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. U.S. economy gathers steam in second quarter

    Business

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy revved up this spring after a weak start to the year, fueled by strong consumer spending. But the growth spurt still fell short of the optimistic goals President Donald Trump hopes to achieve through tax cuts and regulatory relief.

    A government report released Friday showed economic output picked up in the second quarter. 
[Associated Press file photo]
  3. Founder of Tampa home sharing platform questions Airbnb, NAACP partnership

    Business

    TAMPA — A Tampa rival to Airbnb, which was launched because of discrimination complaints on the dominant home sharing platform, has concerns about the new partnership between Airbnb and NAACP announced this week.

    Rohan Gilkes poses for a portrait at his home and business headquarters in Tampa. 

Innclusive, a Tampa-based start-up, is a home-sharing platform that focuses on providing a positive traveling experience for minorities. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  4. Appointments at Port Tampa Bay and Tampa General Medical Group highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Government

    Port Tampa Bay announced that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. Sowell, a former member of the U.S.Marine Corps, will support internal, external and special projects, assist the executive team with management oversight and serve as a liaison on a variety of port …

    Port Tampa Bay announced this week that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. [Handout photo]
  5. Drones restrictions coming at Tampa Bay area airports

    Airlines

    Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems, according to a press release.

    In this February 2017 file photo, a drone flies in Hanworth Park in west London. Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems,
[John Stillwell/PA via AP, File]