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In keeping with the consumer trend toward value and convenience in the face of the down economy, Village Farms has now added all new value-added packaging to its full line of tomato, sweet Bell pepper and cucumber retail product offerings.

In addition, Village Farms has enhanced its packaging capabilities to service its value-added business at all its distribution centers in the United States and Canada to meet the growing demand from its customers.

"Village Farms' value-added packaging capabilities are state-of-the-art and ready to handle volume," Doug Kling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Eatontown, NJ-based Village Farms, said in a Sept. 23 press release.

Recent retail quarterly scanner data from The Perishables Group show the hothouse tomato segment consistently in second or third place of top 20 produce items purchased.

The hothouse tomato segment is holding steady at 50 percent of sales and only slightly less in volume for all tomatoes purchased. The hothouse sweet Bell pepper and hothouse cucumber segments are seeing strong growth particularly in value-added packs. In response to this trend, Village Farms has expanded its product offerings with a number of new value-added products.

Additions to the tomato line are tomatoes-on-the-vine in two-pound clamshells, Roma tomatoes in two-pound clamshells and Beefsteak tomatoes in three-pound clamshells.

In the pepper category, Village Farms has added sweet Bell peppers in two- pound and six-count zip-lock tamper-proof bags available in red, yellow- orange and red-yellow-orange.

Village Farms is offering long English cucumbers in two-count and three- count pack sizes. Other new value-added items for Village Farms are mini- cucumbers in eight-count trays and two-pound zip-lock tamper-proof bags. Village Farms will be featuring all its new value-added products at its booth (No. 2155) at the PMA Fresh Summit convention Oct. 15-18 in Orlando, FL.