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Mastronardi Produce/Sunset Ltd., located in Kingsville, ON, introduced its "Sunset Kidz" program at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit last October in Orlando, FL. The project is scheduled for launch in fall 2009, just in time for the beginning of the new school year.

"The 'Sunset Kidz' program lineup is uniquely designed," said Chris Veillon, marketing manager for Mastronardi Produce. "All package sizes are geared toward kids' lunch boxes, backpacks or totes. The labeling is highly graphic and colorful, and was designed to attract kids and their parents. These fresh produce items are a healthy alternative to processed foods that are loaded with sugar, salt and artificial ingredients."

Paul Mastronardi, president of Mastronardi Produce, searched internationally for the sweetest tomato to produce for the program to ensure that kids would ask for more. He discovered the "MiMi Candy" tomato, which measures up to a 12 on the Brix scale. The item will be packed in three-ounce packs that contain six to eight mini cherry tomatoes under the "Sunset Kidz" brand name. Mr. Veillon said it is by far the sweetest greenhouse-grown tomato available.

Mastronardi Produce's "MiMi Candy" cucumbers are also part of the program. Two-count mini cucumbers are packaged in the same tray as the "MiMi Candy" tomatoes, and the labeling has the same characters and graphics; only the product description changes.

"Mini sweet peppers will be the next item added to the lineup, probably in 2010," said Mr. Veillon. "The peppers will be packaged in four-packs for club stores, and individual packs for general retail.

"The goal behind the 'Sunset Kidz' program is to see these packs retail for 99 cents, which is cheaper than a chocolate bar and a far more nutritious alternative for moms to buy for their kids' lunch boxes and for snacks," he said. "The products are so sweet you would think they were candy."

Mastronardi Produce also unveiled the "Sunset Kidz" Hummer promotional vehicle at the PMA Fresh Summit. And the company has created Sammy, the "Sunset Kidz" mascot. Mr. Veillon said that both the Hummer and Sammy will be used at store demos and special kid-oriented functions.

"A comprehensive promotional program is also being developed to further promote the program," said Mr. Veillon. "It includes a web site (www.sunsetkidz.com), which will contain cool things for kids to download, including collectible characters and coloring pages. The site will also offer product information, nutritional details and where moms can purchase the products."

Mr. Veillon added that when the program launches in fall 2009, all "Sunset Kidz" products will be ready-to-eat items.

"All products will be pre-washed and sealed in the tray," he said. "This means parents can purchase the product off the shelves at their favorite retailer and the pack can go right into their child's lunch box without having to wash the produce first. However it is always recommended that fresh produce be washed prior to eating."

Mr. Veillon said that the "Sunset Kidz" program plays an important role in how Mastronardi Produce/Sunset's business was built and has evolved. "It all centers on quality and flavor," he said.