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US greenhouse tomato grower moves into snacking arena

Snacking tomatoes are proving ever popular in the tomato category and one grower has taken a big step into this new venue.

This August, Magic Sun of Richmond, Va. will be launching a new line of snacking tomatoes available nationally that will include grape, organic grape and medley tomatoes. “We’ve had success growing cocktail tomatoes for a few years now and we’re really making a big step towards other snacking varieties,” says Anthony Otto of Magic Sun.

The tomatoes will be offered in a one-pint clamshell pack. “We do have the top-seal capability so we’ll have the opportunity to use less plastic, offer a more transparent design and also pack 1.5 or 2 lb. packages,” says Otto.

He notes that consumer demand is what drew Magic Sun into the snacking tomato category. “Traditionally we’ve been a round-tomato grower with beefsteak and tomatoes on the vine (TOVs) but we are responding to the market. If you go into a grocery store and look, 75 percent of the space is being taken up with different snacking varieties,” he says. “Consumer demand is really there for these high flavor, convenient snacking items and the organic items as well, so that is where we’ve decided to expand.”

Expanding to grow
Magic Sun grows its tomatoes in its greenhouses in Mexico and Otto notes that the snacking line has involved a space expansion in its greenhouses there. “It’s close to a 25 percent expansion in space for us between the snacking varieties and some extra TOVs as well,” Otto says.

Magic Sun's Mexican greenhouses.

Of course with that, the Tomato Suspension Agreement decision recently made comes to mind involving the United States imposing a 17.5 percent tariff on Mexican tomato imports. “In our eyes, this agreement isn’t necessarily something we can control so we’re focusing on what we can control, which is providing great tomatoes to grow our business,” adds Otto. (Regardless of the deposits, we are in a great position to continue moving our business forward and we look forward to the conclusion of the anti-dumping investigation or a new suspension agreement resulting in fair and free trade, adds Otto.)

The snacking line as well as other types of tomatoes will all be on display at Magic Sun’s booth at the upcoming United Fresh show June 10-12 in Chicago, Ill. “This is a very central show and very well attended. You get to see some of those customers from the Midwest that don’t get to the other shows, and it helps spread our presence geographically,” says Otto. “United Fresh has also put a lot of effort this year into shaking things up and offering new opportunities. I’m expecting the show to be really great.”

For more information:
Anthony Otto
Magic Sun
Tel: +1 (715) 764-3034

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