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Greenhouse tomato grower boosts organic and snack product optionsAs the consumption of tomatoes, interest in snacking tomatoes as well as consumers’ demand for organic product options all continue to increase, at least one greenhouse grower is expanding its organic tomato offerings to cover more areas of growth.
Magic Sun of Richmond, Va. is a year-round hydroponic grower of Tomatoes on the Vine, organic and conventional and this fall will also harvest grape tomatoes and organic Beefsteak tomatoes. “Our supply of tomatoes right now is good across the board, and about the same as last year,” says Anthony Otto of Magic Sun. “We’ve made the commitment to be a year-round supplier, so we will keep going strong through this summer with our conventional and organic Tomatoes on the Vine.” In order to reach year-round availability, Magic Sun has increased its investment in not only production but research, new technology and added acreage as well.
Its greenhouses are located in Central Mexico, a region which Otto says is perfect for growing tomatoes. “We’re located at higher elevations where the plants can get the best sunlight with warm days, cool nights and generally mild weather,” he adds.
Balancing year-round needs
With a controlled environment greenhouse crop that is less affected by the weather conditions (though rainy/cloudy weather can still affect plants) the supply and demand tends to be more stable. However Otto adds that managing volumes for year-round production can still be challenging. “It seems like there are always plenty of tomatoes in the spring and fall, but never enough product when you need it in the middle of the winter,” he says, noting that it’s currently competing for tomatoes with growers in Mexico, Florida and Canada. “It’s a matter of finding the perfect balance of having enough tomatoes to satisfy ever changing demand, but not too much more than that.”
And while winter is when tomato prices peak, this is the time of year they begin to level off as the weather warms up and more product becomes available. “I think we are seeing the expected market conditions for this time of year, and they are similar to last year,” says Otto.
Other changes at Magic Sun include a re-branding initiative (which includes the relaunch of its website, www.magicsunfarms.com), a new company logo and new high-impact packaging designed to increase brand visibility and emphasize the broader product line at point of sale. The new UPC-packaging solutions are based on feedback from retailers who want to have better control of inventory, restocking, and scanning at the stores.
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