“These growing areas give us the ability to produce greenhouse vegetables year round,” said Ms. Pickersgill. “Our home farms in Ontario start producing in March and run through November — possibly even into December this year. In the winter months our farms south of us continue to produce under the same high standards.”
The company continues to promote its “Sunset” tomatoes on-the-vine, one of its strong-selling items in the summer.
‘These tomatoes look and taste great,” said Ms. Pickersgill. “ ‘Sunset’ organic tomatoes on-the-vine are also full of flavor and aroma because they are left on the vine for maximum taste. They present a true garden-fresh flavor and are perfect for sandwiches, salads and burgers — a perfect combination for summer season.”
She said that the “Sunset Zima” clamshell has been a hot item for the company this year. The two-piece clamshell has a peel-back top label so consumers can rinse the tomatoes. It also has drain holes in the bottom for the water to run out and the hole in the top is wide enough to shake the tomatoes out and then reseal for convenience.
Mastronardi products have earned several awards for the company. The most recent were the People’s Choice Award, Best Overall Tomato and Best Hothouse Bite Size Tomato. The “Zima” has won seven awards since being introduced last fall.
Mastronardi works with many of the top retailers in North America. It also distributes in Japan, the Caribbean and most recently in Taiwan.
“Our products can be found in large, small and independent chains,” said Ms. Pickersgill. “Retailers see the value in the wide variety of products we are able to produce and deliver consistently. We have also extended ourselves further into the foodservice industry this year by expanding our sales division to specialize in this market.”
She said that the economy has not had a negative impact on the fresh produce industry, adding, “People are eating healthy and cooking more at home. Now that summer is in full swing and back yard barbequing is key, our slicer beefsteak tomatoes are perfect for burgers. Cucumbers and bite-size tomatoes are great in salads, and grilled peppers can’t be beat. We are experiencing growth and demand in all of our ‘Sunset’ products.”
Mastronardi has made improvements to the sterilization, recirculation and energy and production efficiencies of its Ontario farm this year. Ms. Pickersgill said the company hopes to remain increasingly aware of technological advancements while being conscious of the environment, applying both aspects to its business practices.
“Antoine Janssen, vice president of greenhouse operations, has joined our firm,” she said. “Antoine was born and educated in the Netherlands, and raised on a family-owned vegetable plant propagation farm. He immigrated to Canada, and after having managed several greenhouses here, in the United States and in Mexico, he started his own crop-consulting corporation in Leamington called Horticultural Services Inc.
“His experience and knowledge in the greenhouse business makes him a great asset to our team, while the organization and structure he brings to the greenhouse will help to grow this division.”
Ms. Pickersgill said that the weather was a huge factor for the overall produce industry this year.
“It affected field farmers by causing a delay in planting,” she said. “This is an unfortunate situation for many locally grown products. As greenhouse growers, ‘Sunset’ products grow with consistency and are not affected by soil conditions within the controlled environment of our greenhouses.