Issue Fall 11
Based in Pompano Beach, Fla., CarbAmericas was established in 1993 as an import company to bridge domestic and offshore fruits and vegetables, and avoid gaps in production. The ownership team, consisting of Harvey Pollak, Jeffrey Friedman and Daniel Pollak, has a combined 90 years of experience in marketing fresh fruits and vegetables in the United States. “We very easily adapt to the changing demands in the market,” Partner Daniel Pollak states.
Henry Pollak, father to Harvey, and grandfather to both Jeffrey and Daniel, started supplying potato farmers on the east end of Long Island with fertilizer in the early 1900s. In return, Henry took a portion of the potato crop, and marketed it to the local markets to make his profits.
Harvey Pollak, after graduating Cornell University, came to work with his father and started Henry A. Pollak Corp., in 1965, taking over the marketing of the potatoes. Building on the relationships Harvey had forged, he diversified into all varieties of potatoes, supplying his customers 12 months a year.
CarbAmericas was developed under the same concept as Harvey had followed years before, offering customers continuous supply of product 12 months a year.
Today, Harvey operates the business with his nephew, partner Jeffrey Friedman, and son, partner Daniel Pollak. CarbAmerica’s most popular items are asparagus, mangoes, snow peas, sugar snap peas, pineapples, strawberries, watermelons, and papayas pears and watermelons, according to Pollak.
In addition to its headquarters in Pompano Beach, the company has locations in Los Angeles and Ft. Bragg, Calif.; Sea Girt, N.J.; and San Paolo, Brazil. “Our customer base is a good, healthy mix between retail, wholesale and foodservice [clients],” Pollak says.
Friedman, who joined CarbAmericas 22 years ago, says the firm’s modest size has helped it stay successful. “The owners and members of the company can make quick decisions regarding the industry,” he says. “That helps us be very flexible and adapt to where the industry is going. [We also can meet] the needs of our customers as they request different items from us.”
CarbAmericas recently expanded on its range of services when it set out to begin processing and selling frozen produce worldwide, and exporting fresh fruits and vegetables from the United States. This diversification will help the company stay competitive in its market, Friedman says.
“Ten years ago in this industry, you were able to be successful just by selling fresh produce,” Friedman recalls. “As things have changed up today, you need to diversify your company. You need [to offer] more.”
To sell frozen products, CarbAmericas has entered a partnership with several growers in Peru and participated in building an Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) facility capable of freezing asparagus, mangoes, strawberries, pomegranates, snow peas, sugar snap peas and several other commodities based on customer needs. “Peru is certainly able to grow a genre of produce; it is considered to be the bread basket of South America,” Jeffrey comments.
CarbAmericas also has started construction on an additional facility in Nicaragua to process fruit and vegetables that is grown locally. Mangoes and plantains will be the focus of this facility. “We certainly did our due diligence as far as the types of people we’re going to sell to,” Friedman says. “The retail, industrial and food service customers all have different specifications and requirements, which makes organization, preplanning and attention to detail extraordinarily important.”
CarbAmericas also has expanded into exporting fresh fruits and vegetables from the United States into South America. With the addition of a procurement office in California, and a sales office in Sao Paolo, Brazil, CarbAmericas is able to insure the top most quality of product to its customers.
“The customers are very supportive of the venture,” Jeffrey says, adding that the Brazilian economy also is strong. “Right now, they’re one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.”
These are far different approaches than CarbAmericas’ competitors have taken, Pollak asserts. “We are becoming grower/processors of our own product, and marketing globally.”
Looking To Last
Although CarbAmericas is just starting out with its frozen and export operations, the company has strong expectations for both, Freidman says. “I see the development of the IQF program covering pretty much Europe and the Pacific Rim,” he says, noting that the company is exploring opportunities in Europe and Japan.
The company also plans to grow its import program with new items and customers, Pollak says. “We’re not looking to be the biggest in the business, we just want to be the best at what we do,” he asserts.
“We want to be small enough to make it controllable, and serve our customers in the manner that they require,” he says. “We’re looking to be here for many years to come.”