Jim DiMenna, president of JemD Farms, headquartered in Leamington, ON, is currently serving a one-year term as chairman of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association. His term began at the 2012 CPMA convention in Calgary in April and will draw to a close when he turns over the gavel at the 2013 convention on April 17-19 in Toronto.
“This has been an outstanding experience for me,” said Mr. DiMenna. “And as this was the first time that a greenhouse operator has served as chairman. It has helped to give the entire greenhouse industry added exposure. We have an outstanding convention planned for this year, with record-setting exhibitor numbers and expected attendance.”
Mr. DiMenna is also involved in philanthropic work in Canada. He recently started the James DiMenna Foundation in Kingsville, ON, to support children’s hospitals and to assist children in need.
And the company is expanding. “We are excited about new production buildings that will be up and running in the coming weeks,” he said Jan. 24. “Most of these greenhouses were built last summer and fall, and so we will be online with them in the coming spring. This is a part of our corporate strategy: to build new high-tech greenhouses and remove older outdated ones.”
JemD Farms currently has six North American distribution centers, and it is continually adding acreage to its operations in both Canada and Mexico. Mr. DiMenna said its greenhouses employ the highest level of technology available in the world today.
“We are also expanding our offerings, and especially our specialty tomato line of products, which has our excitement levels high,” he continued. “In fact, even the commodity line of greenhouse products is expanding. Sales on both conventional and specialty items are increasing steadily.”
JemD Farms’ Artisan Series of specialty tomatoes includes its heritage tomatoes, chef’s collection of tomatoes, the Cocoa tomato, the Scarlet grape tomato and cherry tomatoes-on-the-vine, which was a dual award winner of the 2012 Best Bite-Sized Tomato Award and Best Overall Tomato Award.
The company’s Canadian greenhouses are located in Ontario and its Mexican greenhouses are located in the La Piedad, Michoacan area.
“Owning high-technology greenhouses in both Canada and Mexico enables us to produce and ship high-quality greenhouse produce 12 months a year,” said Mr. DiMenna. We are now in the second year with our Artisan Series of specialty greenhouse tomatoes, and the line has become very popular with higher-end supermarkets. This year we launched the series in an attractive basket-weave style clamshell, which really sets the collection apart.”
JemD Farms also sells independent, small and large chain retailers, and during the past several years it has significantly expanded its penetration to other channels such as foodservice operations and specialty wholesalers. Its products are shipped to “every corner of North America,” he said.
Innovation and product development continue to be JemD Farms’ primary focus. Because greenhouse crops are regularly cycled between one and five times each year, the company is very nimble when it comes to new varieties or increasing production on an item that spikes in demand with very little lead time.
It also stays tuned in to trends and movements in the produce industry. Mr. DiMenna said consumers know what they are getting when they make the conscious decision to purchase produce grown in high-tech greenhouses.
“It’s hard to beat the flavor of vine-ripened produce that is picked, shipped, purchased and consumed in a 24- to 48-hour period,” he said. “Locally grown produce programs are short in duration and will always be popular. We try to emphasize our consistent eating experience 365 days a year.”
JemD Farms works closely with its seed provider partners in research and development, and its farms participate in countless trials to ensure that it keeps its retail and foodservice partners and consumers on the forefront of the industry.
“JemD Farms has become a North American leader in the production area, customer service and in food safety and product traceability,” said Mr. DiMenna. “Now that our industry position has been well established in those areas, we have quickly become a leader in product development and innovation.”