This September, London Fruit of Pharr, Texas, celebrates its 40th year anniversary in business. Four decades ago, the London family began importing mangos to the U.S. and Canada in 35-pound wooden crates. “Little did we know that what started as a hobby would turn into a multi-national operation,” says Barry London, founder and president of London Fruit. “We later incorporated limes, chili peppers, avocados and other tropical items. We are proud to now support over 50 families within our year-round operations.”
The legacy began when Barry London’s father, Ben, bought some mango groves in Vallarta, Mexico, and Barry began selling some fruit for him. “Business started to increase so I opened a company in Texas, to focus on mango sales,” says London. “We kept growing our volume in mangos, then added pineapples, then limes and we’ve continued expanding ever since.”
In the early 2000s, London Fruit became one of the first importers of Mexican avocados into the U.S. and has continued to grow as the industry leader in serving customers with grower-direct product. “There’s not many people who last in this business for 40 years especially down here in the Valley,” says Jerry Garcia, vice president at London Fruit. “Being around and successful for 40 years is quite a notable accomplishment.”
Over the decades, the company cemented its success with its exceptional team of people. London Fruit added Garcia to its people assets about 30 years ago. “It was impressionable to work with London Fruit,” says Garcia. “I was young and coming from a ranching background into produce. Getting shipped out to Mexico as the field man was awe-inspiring and I really enjoyed it. London was a pretty good-sized and innovative company even at that time.”
As the company celebrates its 40th year anniversary, it blends a strong foundation of experience with the forward thinking of younger generations. “We have many valued ‘old timers’ who have been around for 25 to 35 of those years,” says Garcia. “At the same time, we have a new generation of sales staff who have been on board for a couple of years now including two of my daughters. This younger generation is building on the experience they’ve gleaned from our older generation and serving as a core to lead us into the future.”
The company continues to build on its reputation and consistency formed by 40 years in business. “We’ve had ups and downs over the years, but we persisted and stayed successful,” says Garcia. “We’ve been able to respond to all the changes in business over the years. We now are able to consolidate for customers, pack to unique specifications, offer private label, and take extra precaution to ensure good shipping of pallets. We do everything to assure our customer receives the product without problems or hassle.”
London explains the company has noticed the needs of wholesalers and retailers for special services and products and is planning to launch several new programs soon. “By offering specific services and products we have been able to grow long term relationships that are mutually beneficial,” he says. “And, this is just the beginning. We plan to continue investing in London Fruit to better serve our customers. It’s all part of our renewed future strategy and commitment to offer greater options and convenience for customers.”
London Fruit, Inc. is a leading importer of mangos, limes and avocados from Mexico as well as some off-shore items. Headquartered in Pharr, Texas, the company has been serving the produce industry for 40 years.