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Almost one year after the debut of Six L's Vintage Ripe tomatoes, the heirloom variety has found its stride with year-round production and nearly 25 percent more acreage.

The new Vintage Ripe tomato season kicked off June 1 with production coming from South Carolina. The deal then transitions to Virginia for the months of July through October before rounding out the season with Florida production November through May.

Vintage Ripe tomatoes are marketed as a vine-ripened, premium tomato with "authentic tomato flavor." Vintage Ripe heirloom-style tomatoes differ in appearance from other heirloom varieties in that they are consistent in their deep-red color and are less irregular in shape. Sold in a protective bootie and labeled with the "Vintage Ripe" branding, consumers and buyers alike are identifying with the homegrown quality of this new product.

To translate consumer trends to real-life products, Six L's took note of a research study published by the Produce Marketing Association that showed that 72 percent of consumers said that flavor was extremely important in their buying decisions and that 20 percent of consumers felt fruits and vegetables lacked flavor.

This set into motion the development of the new Vintage Ripe heirloom tomato variety with the key driving factor being high taste. As a vertically integrated company that includes both growing and packing companies, the Lipman Family of Cos. also includes a research and development division that spent several years developing this proprietary variety.

Darren Micelle, chief marketing officer of Six L's Packing Co., said in a press release, "As a leader in the tomato industry, we take great pride in developing high-quality products that are in line with consumer expectations, while also offering retailers' sales motivators that will help grow the category. We are proud of this Vintage Ripe tomato and the fact that it delivers high flavor for an exceptional eating experience. We are confident that the homegrown flavor of this tomato will keep consumers coming back for more."

Vintage Ripe tomatoes are available year round in bulk stickered or four- pack clamshell packaging.