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Oppenheimer grows greenhouse category with Ontario partners

by press release | March 30, 2011

VANCOUVER, BC -- Driven by a desire for better service to its eastern U.S. and Canadian customers -- and an appetite for quality sweet Bell peppers and tomatoes -- The Oppenheimer Group has entered into its first-ever exclusive Ontario greenhouse partnership, with not just one but two exceptional greenhouse growers.

Geo Produce and Platinum Produce Co. in Chatham-Kent, ON, joined Oppenheimer's family of growers in March. With 37 acres of colored sweet Bell peppers between them, and 4.5 acres of tomatoes-on-the-vine growing at Geo Produce, this pair of partners enhances Oppenheimer's greenhouse program with strategically located volume and assortment.

Over the last decade, Oppenheimer has established itself as a greenhouse marketing and distribution leader, building demand for such signature brands as “Sun Select,” “Houweling's Hot House,” “OriginO” and “Divemex.”

"Our excellent grower base has enabled us to build robust greenhouse programs with customers throughout the U.S. and Canada, though at times we've felt the absence of eastern Canadian production in our mix," John Anderson, Oppenheimer's chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a March 30 press release. "We've been looking for the right partners to complement our existing western Canadian, California and Mexican production. Geo Produce and Platinum Produce are a good fit because they have the same values as we do at Oppenheimer, like putting food safety first and meeting high standards for quality and flavor."

Platinum Produce first opened in 2003, initially producing tomatoes before switching to sweet Bell peppers three years later. Currently owned and operated by the Verbeek family, Platinum Produce has 30 acres of hydroponic produce, a warehouse packaging facility and a cold storage facility on site.

"Our interest in working with Oppenheimer grew as we became acquainted with their greenhouse category leaders and executive team," Gerard Verbeek, Platinum Produce's president and owner, said in the release. "It became clear that we were operationally compatible and could build a long-term relationship based on transparency and trust."

Amy Knotek, who owns Geo Produce with her husband Chris, agrees. "We believe we are well positioned for success with this partnership because we are approaching the market in a collaborative manner and have a high level of confidence in one another -- as well as in our product line."

Geo Produce has operated since 1999, growing beefsteak tomatoes, tomatoes-on-the-vine, cucumbers and peppers over the years. Now it specializes in peppers and tomatoes-on-the-vine, producing on roughly a dozen acres. Though it was formed after he died, the company is named for Chris Knotek's father, George Knotek -- who farmed in Ontario for over four decades.

Oppenheimer will bring Ontario peppers and tomatoes-on-the-vine to market in tandem with its new partners in early April. All items will bear an Oppenheimer-branded PLU.