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Village Farms trialing new premium greenhouse products, plans to launch in next six to nine months

Douglas Kling, senior vice president, chief sales and marketing officer for Village Farms International Inc., told The Produce News that in addition to its popular existing line, it plans to launch several new varieties that are currently in trial.

The company, headquartered in Eatontown, NJ, is a major North American producer of high-quality greenhouse vegetables, some of which are considered gourmet.

“Our specialty product line includes ‘Sinfully Sweet’ Campari tomatoes and Roma tomatoes on the vine,” said Mr. Kling. “Also considered specialty items are our mini long English cucumbers. We plan to launch the new items that we are currently trialing in 2012.”

He added that Village Farms’ premium natural products are available in bulk corrugated retail-ready displays, as well as RPCs, or rigid plastic cartons, and value-added packaging.

The company’s products are available year round from its greenhouse facilities located in Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia and Texas. It also owns and operates one of the larger greenhouses in Canada, located outside Vancouver, BC. The firm is currently building its 12th greenhouse, this one in Monahans, TX. It is the fifth greenhouse built by the company in the state, and is based on its innovative proprietary technology termed “GATES.” The facility is expected to begin production in early 2012.

“We consider all of our vegetables to be premium natural greenhouse-grown products,” said Mr. Kling. “The label ‘gourmet’ tends to represent more specialty varieties, but we would not want to limit our quality products by so broad a description.”

Merchandising of Village Farms’ premium produce is based on the requirements of the chain retail customer.

“We have several options for retailers to choose from and based on volumes and positioning we would consider unique,” said Mr. Kling. “Merchandising options are typically based on market drivers, retailer positioning and regional consumer dynamics.”

Driving the demand for gourmet specialty items, Mr. Kling suggested, is consumers’ desire to compensate for the troubled economic status.

“Consumers are seeking affordable comfort, safety and high quality as a reward for the stress so many face in these difficult economic times,” he said.

Village Farms’ marketing team is dedicated to new varietal development and

trialing those items.

“We are dedicated to innovative packaging, category trend data and consumer trends that are targeted at building the category,” Mr. Kling added.