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HLB Specialties opens rambutan season with in-store demos

Papaya specialist HLB Specialties, based in Pompano Beach, FL, has started importing rambutan fruit from Guatemala. The first shipment arrived the last week of June and is being sampled in the Florida stores of a major national retailer.

Rambutan is a tropical fruit from Southeast Asia and Central America and is similar to the lychee, longan and mamoncillo. The flavor is sweet and the texture is juicy. Unlike the mamoncillo, there are no fibers and the fruit has more Rambutan-HLBpulp.

HLB Specialties will carry the fruit through November, when the Guatemalan season ends. The company will do tasting demos at several south Florida stores and will distribute flyers explaining how to eat the fruit.

HLB Specialties recently promoted rambutans in Miami at a soccer match hosted by Argentinean soccer star Lionel Messi, called “Messi and Friends.”

“The responses varied from curious stares to exclamations of recognition from people who knew the fruit from their home countries, such as Honduras and Costa Rica,” Lorenz Hartmann de Barros, director of sales at HLB Specialties, said in a June 27 press release. “Its red spikes look like hairs, and it carries the nickname ‘messy hair’ in Vietnam. Once we mentioned this moniker to the young soccer fans, they connected it to their idol’s name and were intrigued. They ate the rambutans and even asked for more.”

HLB Specialties carries rambutans in a five-pound bulk box and a 5.8-pound box that carries 24 clamshells, each containing four pieces of fruit. The clamshell presentation is ideal for retailers, as it has instructions on how to peel and consume the fruit. It also extends the shelf life, since the fruit is protected from mishandling and the humidity retained.

HLB Specialties continues carrying papayas from Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico and Jamaica, and has recently started handling avocados from Peru and mangos from several countries.