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Mission Produce in Oxnard, CA, announced in mid-February the grand opening of its latest ripe center in Toronto.

Mission, a global avocado packer-shipper, has strategically built state-of- the-art avocado ripening facilities in major U.S. markets. Toronto becomes the first in Canada, and the eighth overall, following centers in Oxnard, CA; Denver; Dallas; New Jersey; Chicago; Atlanta; and Seattle.

"Toronto represents our first Ripe Center established outside the U.S. and increases our continental distribution network where avocados are received, inventoried, ripened and delivered to customer distribution centers," Mission President Steve Barnard said in a Feb. 16 press release. "We can deliver on demand within 24 hours anywhere in the United States and Canada."

The space for the facility is being leased from Ippolito Group, which will handle the Canadian distribution of product. The Toronto center will house similar high-tech equipment and ripening rooms found in Mission's other facilities. Mission will staff its own personnel to run the operation, which will service all of eastern Canada.

Mission was the first company to initiate a true ripe program and continues to lead the industry in bringing ripe avocados to the market, according to the release. When implemented properly, Mission's ripe program has significantly increased avocado sales. Some customers have seen sales rise as much as 400 percent, the release noted, adding that the program has proven itself again and again with customers across the United States and continues to substantiate sales increases.

"None of our competitors can compare to the size and efficiency of our distribution network,” Mr. Barnard added in the releasse. “The seven ripe centers in the United States have grown sales of ripe fruit exponentially."

"We now have the opportunity to offer customers in Canada the same ripe product and customer service that has been so successful in America,” Ross Wileman, the company's vice president of sales, added in the release. “These regional, high-tech facilities ripen fruit, maximize just-in-time delivery, reduce customer inventory management and enhance transportation efficiency. Mission customers are ensured a consistent flow of fresh products on an as needed basis."