L-r: State Rep. Pedro Marin of Duluth and Norcross Rep. Brenda Lopez (D-99) with Leo Angeles, owner of Olympica Produce Co.

Twenty five years ago Mexican-American entrepreneur Leo Angeles started his food distribution company Olympica Produce Co. by selling fresh fruits and vegetables from a single truck.

From these humble roots, he has grown the company into one of the largest fresh food distributors in the Southeast. “I started selling produce out of my truck,” he told Global Atlanta. “Then I got a van, and then a trailer.” Today, the company sells throughout eight states in the Southeast.

Mr. Angeles’ accomplishment was recognized Dec. 3 during the Latin American Chamber of Commerce’s 16th annual holiday gala, “La Posada,” which was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead to recognize the Latin American business community in Georgia.

State Rep. Pedro Marin from Duluth and Brenda Lopez, the first Latina recently elected to the state house who will represent District 99, recognized Olympica Produce as an “outstanding Georgia business” and “goodwill ambassador” from the state to other nations.

Mr. Angeles’ recognition was extended by the officials on behalf of Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who told Global Atlanta in a statement that it was “a great honor to recognize Olympica Produce for the company’s contributions to the Peach State.”

Traditional Latina dresses at the Latin American Chamber of Commerce annual holiday gala, “La Posada”, Dec. 3, 2016, Intercontinental Hotel, Buckhead
Traditional Latina dresses at the Latin American Chamber of Commerce annual holiday gala, “La Posada”, Dec. 3, 2016, Intercontinental Hotel, Buckhead

“I look forward to working with them to continue moving Georgia forward as the number one state in the nation to do business,” he added.

Olympica sources produce from domestic and international growers. Avocados, which are one of the company’s main products, largely come from Mexico, though a recent  advocate shortage required Mr. Angeles to supplement his usual Mexican imports with those from the Dominican Republic, he said. The company sells approximately 120,000 points of avocados per week throughout the eight states.

“We buy produce from where it is best available, depending on the season,” he said, noting that the milder climate in Mexico offers certain types of produce not available during winter months in the U.S.

Trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) are important to Olympica, Mr. Angeles said, because the company’s brokers in Mexico must be certified under NAFTA, and those in the Dominican Republic must be certified under CAFTA.

He also said that he thinks his sourcing of food products would most likely be unaffected by any regulations that may be introduced by the new U.S. administration in the coming year.

NAFTA and other trade agreements have been under scrutiny by President-elect Trump, though his transition team has announced that the administration would not “rip up NAFTA,” but would, rather, “right-size it and make it fairer.”

“Food imports are always going to be important in conjunction with domestic supply, because we rely on other countries for off-season produce, diversity of products and good prices,” Mr. Angeles said.

In Georgia and throughout the Southeast, many of Olympica’s customers are from Latino businesses, including local grocers and restaurants, but it also sells indirectly to large supermarket chains.

Located at the Atlanta State Farmers Market in Forest Park, Olympica has been a member of the Latin American Chamber since the chamber’s founding in 1998 as the Mexican-American Business Chamber. The organization changed its name in 2011 to reflect the increasing diversity of the Latino community in the state where almost 1 million Latinos live representing more than 9 percent of the state population.

Of the Latin American Chamber’s more than 1,000 members, two-thirds do most of their business in Georgia, and the other one-third is involved in international business through connections in other countries.

Learn more about the chamber click here or call (770) 441-7581.

To reach Olympica Produce, call (404) 608-8780.