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2824 Manatee Avenue East

Bradenton, Florida 3420

Office: 941.792.2111

Toll Free: 1.800.522.7869

Fax: 941.747.9632






Tropicana a giant in the juice industry

That sweet, acidic smell of orange juice wafting from the Tropicana plant off U.S. 301 is an old factory memory of Bradenton and Manatee County that lingers with natives and visitors alike. It fills the nostrils and the memory banks and is a constant reminder of the area’s close ties to Florida’s orange industry legacy.                                                             

The company, founded in 1953, is the largest purchaser of fruit in Florida, processing 41 million boxes of fruit a season, or 1.1 million boxes a week between November and mid-June. Huge semis loaded with the fruit are a familiar sight on Manatee County roadways during the winter season. Railcars filled with the processed juice are another familiar sight as they rumble over tracks across the Manatee River, headed for California as well as northern and mid-western states.
Tropicana’s footprint in Manatee County is a large one. It is one of the county’s largest employers with about 1,400 workers. Visitors are always clamoring for non-existent tours of the sprawling complex where huge metal buildings the size of several football fields house most of the processing operation.                  

One out of every three oranges grown commercially in Florida ends up at Tropicana, and many of the workers at the Bradenton plant are second- and third-generation employees.
The first step in the processing operation is the unloading of the freshly picked fruit from the semi-tractor trailers and onto a conveyor belt system. After fruit graders cull the fruit that doesn’t meet quality standards, the selected fruit is washed and de-stemmed and then juice is extracted through a series of machine-driven processes.                                                             

The pulp, seed and skin are saved and reused. Finally, the juice is put inside packaging also made at the plant with few human hands used in the process.
The company came from humble beginnings. It was founded by Anthony Rossi, an ambitious Italian immigrant who sailed into New York Harbor in the 1920s at the age of 15 with $30 in his pocket. After a number of early ventures that included a cafeteria restaurant in downtown Bradenton, Rossi bought out a local Palmetto fruit shipper, and so began the germination of Tropicana.                                                                                             

The Manatee River Packing Co., housed in a fruit packinghouse in Palmetto, had 35 employees. Rossi moved the company to Bradenton in 1949 and changed the name to Fruit Industries Inc. The orange juice concentrate part of the business began when Rossi decided to make use of oranges that were too small for gift baskets. .There are several stories about Rossi’s decision to rename the business Tropicana. One says he borrowed the name of a local motel – Tropicana Cabins. Another says it came from a combination of the word tropical and his wife’s first name, Anna.

Rossi died in 1993 at the age of 92. In 1998, the company was purchased by PepsiCo. for $3.3 billion. Today, it is the largest juice plant in North America with 46 percent of the market share.
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My wife and I would like to take this opportunity to recognize Linda Johnston who is with the office at CENTURY 21 All Aces Realty. We had been trying to sell our house in Palmetto for approximately 2 years. Prior to being introduced to Linda, we had used two other real estate agents who were quite ineffective in getting people to look at the house. As soon as we spoke to Linda, we were impresses with her enthusiasm and determination. She immediately gave us ideas on how to list the house to attract prospective buyers. When one idea didn't work, she was innovative and determined to come up with new ideas. Her personality was refreshing and she was always professional. We felt as though we were her only client, although we knew she had others. It was a pleasure working with her and we would recommend her to any seller or buyer. Craig & Felicia Himes
My experience with CENTURY 21 All Aces Realty was remarkable, but my experience with my Agent, Matthew Rotondo was even better. Matt’s willingness to work with my wife and I was truly amazing. Matt took a true interest in our needs and wants as a young couple. Knowing we did not have the money to buy a home that needed lots of work, Matt made sure to find us a home that was move in ready. When it came time to close on our dream home, the house needed a new roof. Matt came through again, he was able to get us our dream home at price we could afford with a new roof. Matt is just a genuine good guy, I don’t know many agents that would actually come over and help you move and work in the yard. Thanks again Matt for helping my family get the house of their dreams. Richard and Lisa Glass
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