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VANCOUVER, BC -- Fans of organics have El Niño to thank this spring. Favorable weather conditions and efficient growing methods will yield a quality crop mix featuring abundant volumes of tomatoes-on-the-vine from Origin Organic Farms Inc. in Delta, BC, during the Canadian greenhouse season.

The impact of the early spring, which was characterized by plentiful sunlight, can already be seen in the medium and large sizes of long English cucumbers. "As our organic greenhouse program hits the market, we are pleased to announce that the startup is very robust, with exceptional quality coming out of the gate," Aaron Quon, greenhouse category director for full- service marketer The Oppenheimer Group, said in an April 5 press release.

Primarily comprised of tomatoes-on-the-vine, cucumbers, beefsteak tomatoes and other specialty items, and marketed by The Oppenheimer Group under the "OriginO" brand, the hearty nature of this year's harvest is also due in part to a continued focus on quality improvements to enhance OriginO products' shelf life and flavor profile.

Long English seedless cucumbers became available in early March, with the rollout of tomatoes-on-the-vine and beefsteak tomatoes set to begin at the end of April.

For British Columbia's only fully organic greenhouse grower, the “OriginO” line will leverage Oppenheimer's regular conventional programs to provide its retail partners the ability to promote organic and conventional items at the same time. The brand will also serve to fulfill customers' anticipation for the return of the organically grown Canadian program that ended in November of last year.

Promotional opportunities will be available throughout the season for both tomatoes-on-the-vine and long English cucumbers.

In addition to solid demand for tomatoes due to the freeze in Florida at the beginning of the year, the market outlook for organics is just as positive. "The decreasing price gap between conventional and organic produce has allowed people to trade up by switching over and buying a more premium product when choosing an organically grown item," Mr. Quon said in the release. "This will expand on the current segment of consumers who already favor organics when they shop for produce."

OriginO Organic Farms has implemented some new growing practices for this year, one of which included experimenting with and enhancing its proprietary growing medium for better plants and healthier fruit.

This continuous development is consistent with OriginO's focus on providing safe, tasty, healthy and clean vegetables through a sustainable growing philosophy. OriginO employs other green methods such as processing raw material consisting of waste leaves, stems and fruit prunings from the daily greenhouse operations into compost, along with recycling 100 percent of the proprietary organic fertilizer drain. "These programs contribute to a well- rounded environment of efficiency with optimal growing conditions for a cleaner and more nutrient-rich fruit," said Mr. Quon. Such biological controls and innovative programs combine to effectively define the meaning of clean farming with true sustainability.

Of the 23 acres planted this season, the crop mix consists of roughly 75 percent tomatoes and 25 percent cucumbers, all grown with a focus on quality and efficiency to produce the same volume on less acreage than in some previous years. Consumers and retailers can expect similar volumes to 2009 of OriginO's organically grown greenhouse vegetables from the current and upcoming crop harvest.

Alongside its staples, OriginO is also experimenting with trial varieties, such as colored mini tomatoes-on-the-vine and grape tomatoes, to discover the flavor profiles and yield capacity these new varieties will produce.

Not limited to its major brand of organic vegetables, OriginO and Oppenheimer also offer private-label greenhouse organic programs for individual retailers in order to help these partners provide a wider assortment to their shoppers. In addition to the popular bulk packaging, there are numerous other pack options available upon retailer request. One is a "new" 2.5-pound tomato-on-the-vine clamshell package which is easily merchandisable and is sure to create excitement for consumers, according to Quon.

The Oppenheimer Group is the exclusive marketer for “OriginO” greenhouse- grown tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and specialty items.