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Tomato repacking strong for Ray & Mascari

Ray & Mascari Inc., located in Indianapolis, enjoyed “a lot of growth this year,” according to Joe (Rocky) Ray, the firm’s vice president.

Mr. Ray, who works with his family, including his father, also named Joe Ray, in the family business, said that sales are strong in both the retail and foodservice ends of the trade. Ray & Mascari specializes in tomato repacking.

“Normally when you need to keep growing in this business, you have to work very, very hard to keep going. But over the last two or three years, a lot of businesses came to us to see if we could help them out. It has been good. It seems the repacker is certainly in demand now — especially with high markets like this and a lot of risk in buying direct and getting them yourself. Things have been good.”

Customers who once might have bought tomatoes direct are now going to Ray & Mascari because, otherwise, “If they have problems, there is certainly a risk of quite a loss there if there is a high market. They would rather have someone else take that risk.”

When Mr. Ray spoke with The Produce News in late May, he said, “The tomato business right now is fairly strong. We just came off an extremely unprecedented market. In the last three months, we had the freeze in Florida followed by a freeze in Mexico. That made high markets, but sales have been steady. The market finally took a dip — it hit $6 for two days around the first week of May — and then went right back up.”

The good news, he said, is that “the market sustains good prices. It certainly has sustained higher prices,” which ranged up to $30 and even $35 a carton.

“I am not sure if it’s good for anybody when it’s up that high. It makes people look at different alternatives. But business has been good.”