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Mucci eyes future with facilities expansion, innovative products

Springing up from humble roots with a small vegetable growing operation dating back to the early 1960s, Mucci Farms Ltd. continues to implement a plan for sustained and strategic business development as it moves into the future.

“We have finally finished a year-long warehouse and office renovation at corporate headquarters and couldn’t be happier with the results,” said Joe Spano, vice president of sales and marketing at the Kingsville, ON-based company.

“We added an additional 65,000 square feet of cooled distribution space and remodeled and expanded our office space to better accommodate our growing staff.”

The calculated expansion does not stop there. “We completed one of our largest expansions in the fall of 2012 of 30 acres of high-tech glass, right behind a 15-acre build the year before,” he added. “[We are] currently harvesting and producing amazing quality tomatoes-on-the-vine, cocktail tomatoes grapes and cherry tomatoes.”

Today, Mucci Farms owns and operates 150 acres in greenhouse cultivation. In addition to its own volume, Mucci also represents an additional 300 acres of Canadian greenhouses. 

“We represent an additional 200-300 acres of the best Mexican growers in the industry,” Spano added. 

“In the new build, we are primarily concentrating on tomato varieties: Middy tomatoes-on-the-vine, regular tomatoes-on-the-vine, grape tomato, cherry tomato and several hundred trial varieties,” Spano commented. “We are looking for the next great tomato discovery.” 

The predominant feature of the new greenhouse is its double energy curtain.

“[It] acts as an isolator during the cold winter months and keeps energy usage down,” Spano stated. “During the summer months, the one curtain is used as a ‘shade’ curtain to help shield the crop and the fruit from sun scald and stress. It also creates a wonderful work environment for the workers.”

Spano said the facility also includes LED lighting; grow pipes; recirculating, recycling and sterilization water systems; skylights in all service buildings; and electric forklifts for the entire facility.

The company is dedicated to practices that reduce its carbon footprint and are environmentally friendly.

In 2007, Mucci Farms developed its own proprietary gasification system to accept a broad range of biomass fuels, ranging from waste wood to fuel pellets derived from municipal waste.

“We recirculate and sterilize all of our feed water for the crops and reuse and overflow on a daily basis,” Spano explained. “We estimate a 15-20 percent savings in water consumption.”

The company uses integrated pest management to control pest pressures.

Mucci Farms is at the forefront of food-safety policies and initiatives that meet or exceed legal requirements of current food-safety laws.

“We are GFSI certified with a ‘Superior’ grade for Good Agricultural Practices, Good Handling Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices,” Spano said, adding that the company is also HACCP certified by third-party auditors.

In addition to its wide array of tomatoes, Mucci Farms offers growers varieties of peppers and cucumbers.

The company has helped to promote healthful eating among children with its fresh offerings designed for their smaller hands. Kid-friendly produce includes Bellasweets super-sweet mini peppers, Sundrops sweet grape tomatoes, and Cutecumbers, snack-sized cucumbers.

“As the senior vice president of one of our preferred retail partners said, watching kids in our stores reach out and grab the Mucci Farms mini peppers is just amazing,” Spano noted. “They are drawn to it like candy, but with a great healthy result. They are making healthy decisions without even knowing it.”

Mucci Farms works closely with local schools and school boards to make healthy snacks available.

“We also host tours for the local schools kids in hopes of inspiring some young minds to go into the greenhouse industry,” Spano added.

Attention to the needs of children is indicative of the company’s interest in moving innovative products to the marketplace.

“We are constantly introducing new value-added items and commodities to add to our lineups, whether it’s up-sizing our smallest packs or reinventing the way to present our commodity items,” he added. “Stay tuned for announcements and PMA launches. We have some wonderful new ideas to show the industry at the next expo.”