Nancy Pickersgill, events and communication manager for Mastronardi Produce Ltd., headquartered in Leamington, ON, said that the company began growing organically in 2006 with the “Sunset” organic “Campari” brand cocktail tomatoes.
“With the ‘Sunset’ brand revitalization, we have changed all of our organic labels,” said Ms. Pickersgill. “They now show fresh, whole organically grown images on our labels. The Mastronardi Produce ‘Sunset’ organics line offers a variety of tomatoes, peppers, English and mini cucumbers. Our biggest selling organic item continues to be the ‘Sunset’ organic tomatoes on the vine, grape tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers.”
She added that Mastronardi Produce is constantly researching and developing products, each year bringing new varities successfully to the marketplace.
“All ‘Sunset’ brand products begin in our trial greenhouse where data, research and development is compiled on selected varieties hand selected from around the world,” said Ms. Pickersgill. Our ‘Sunset’ and ‘Sunset’ organic products are grown throughout North America. In the spring and summer months we are able to grow in Canada, but due to climate conditions we have our greenhouses in Mexico grow for us in the winter.”
She added that regardless of the location, all of Mastronardi’s products are greenhouse grown naturally under the same high quality conditions. Some of the company’s farms are certified organic, but the lengthy process to convert from conventional to organic means that the company produces both categories.
“The wonderful thing about greenhouse-grown products is that we have the ability to control the environment within the greenhouse,” said Pickersgill. “We have ‘good bugs’ that help with pollination and eat the ‘bad bugs’ that could potentially damage crops. These good bugs are used instead of pesticides, and is what we refer to as integrated pest management.”
Mastronardi Produce distributes throughout North America to major retailers. Its customers are retailers, wholesalers and foodservice operators. The company distributes across North America. It also works with its retail partners in developing private label programs, in store demonstrations and customizing items to suit their needs.
“Our strategically placed distribution centers and farms allow us to provide fresh produce with reduced food miles throughout North America,” said Pickersgill. “Our Coldwater, Michigan, greenhouse is located in an area that enables us to supply fresh, locally grown greenhouse produce to four surrounding states year round.”
She noted that the company as seen a significant increase in greenhouse-grown organic sales.
“From 2006 to 2010, our organic produce sales increased by 173 percent,” she said. “We are at 100 percent growth rate so far this year. The demand for tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers has us in a sold out situation once again.”