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Mastronardi planting nearly 27 acres at its Coldwater, MI, facility

Mastronardi Produce has a new greenhouse offering year-round tomato production.

“Mastronardi Produce ‘Sunset’ has completed planting close to 27 acres at our Coldwater Greenhouse, our newest facility in Coldwater, Michigan,” said Nancy Pickersgill, marketing coordinator for Mastronardi Produce Ltd., headquartered in Leamington, ON. “This first-of-its-kind greenhouse will be growing year round and is dedicated to tomato production that we will be shipping this year.”

Marne Safrance, executive secretary, Don Mastronardi, chairman and Paul Mastronardi, president of Mastronardi Produce, with Paul Mastrnardi’s daughters Milla and Anika.

Ms. Pickersgill said that every component that went into the construction of the new greenhouse was sought out to maximize production for year-round growing conditions. The facility was strategically placed in order to provide its customers in the surrounding market with fresh produce while reducing food miles. Ms. Pickersgill said the new greenhouse is dedicated to tomato production, and the company anticipates shipping over 11 million pounds of tomatoes from it this year.

“It has large gutters and two sets of irrigation lines for inter-planting,” she said. “Horizontal and vertical fans increase and ensure uniform temperature and air circulation, and the frame is powder coated for maximum reflection of light. This integration of new technology will benefit our consistent effort to optimize crop conditions within the glass greenhouse.”

Mastronardi Produce, she added, is always looking to expand its operations in North America.

The company grows gourmet tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in numerous areas of Canada, the United States and Mexico, all of which use the same high standards of growing conditions. All “Sunset” products are nurtured in environmentally controlled greenhouses and are left on the vine to maximize flavor before they are hand-picked.

Mastronardi Produce provides gourmet tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers year round. In the spring and summer months, it grows in Canada. The company turns to its greenhouses in Mexico for winter supplies, resulting in year round production.

“We test hundreds of varieties every year, and we introduce between one and four new commodities to the market with success each year,” said Ms. Pickersgill. “This year we will be launching a variety of new items that are yet to be unveiled. We base our new product launches on research and consumer demands.”

She said that the company works with many of the top large, small and independent retailers in North America, adding that retailers see the value in the wide variety of products the company is able to consistently produce and deliver. It also exports to Japan, the Caribbean and most recently to Taiwan.

Mastronardi Produce has also extended further into the foodservice industry by expanding its sales division and by providing gourmet specialties in pack sizes requested by foodservice operators.

The company operates under a food-safety system that utilizes the internationally accepted Safe Quality Foods standards. The SQF standards are recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative.

“The department of food safety takes a proactive verses reactive approach to food safety and quality,” said Ms. Pickersgill. “It keeps us ahead of industry standards and practices so we are compliant while always looking ahead to see how we can improve. Traceability, microbiology, post-harvest and certifications are all segments of our continuously developing and improving food safety program.”

She added that with busy lifestyles, an increase in health-conscious customers and foodies, Mastronardi Produce felt it needed to provide healthy meal solutions. It recently launched a Fresh Tomato Soup Kit with no additives or preservatives. It contains “Sunset” tomatoes on-the-vine, seasoning and croutons, “For a healthy meal that can be made in less than 20 minutes,” said Ms. Pickersgill. “This soup is ‘Straight from the Vine, Not from the Can.’ “

The company recently added the “Delano” tomato, a new variety to its “Sunset” category.

Tomatoes on-the-vine have the largest share of the tomato category, but they aren’t always the best when it comes to flavor, said Ms. Pickersgill. “ ‘Sunset’ searched the world for a tomato that answered this dilemma, and we found the ‘Delano.’ On average, the ‘Delano’ is slightly smaller but with more flavor, making it perfect for salads and sandwiches.”