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Greenhouse grower discusses tomato season and value of United Fresh

Supplies of greenhouse tomatoes look good given the multiple regions currently producing them.

“There’s production in all areas right now. Volume is good in tomatoes out of Canada and our California operations. Canadian volume is up. California is mid-stream. And Mexico is finishing,” says Jeff Madu of Windset Farms in Delta, BC.

He notes that tomato volumes are similar to the levels last year at this time. “The month of May is always a challenge for tomatoes because you have Canada coming into production and Mexico finishing so there’s still some collision,” says Madu.

Popularity in snacking
Also in production is Windset’s medley of snacking cherry tomatoes right now, a product that’s going to be one of the focuses of Windset’s booth at the upcoming United Fresh show June 10-12 in Chicago, Ill. It’s there Windset will have on display its lines of tomatoes including its Cameo® Cherry Tomatoes, Symphony® Tomato Ensemble, and Concerto® Grape Tomatoes.

Snacking tomatoes have come a long way in terms of product development. “There are different varieties there so brown, striped, green, yellow and orange,” says Madu. “The flavor profile on them is so much better than it was a few years ago. They all eat so well now.”

And consumers are responding given that demand for snacking tomatoes continues to pick up. “I think demand is increasing. The whole snacking category is probably one of the most exciting categories we work with,” says Madu.

Pricing even
Pricing though is steady, albeit a bit sluggish, on grape, beef and tomato on the vines (TOVs). “It’s not historically lower or higher than in the past during this time frame. It’s normal and what we expect in May,” says Madu, who adds though that with the United States imposing a 17.5 percent tariff on Mexican tomato imports, pricing remains questionable. “What’s going to happen with tomato pricing over the next four weeks will be interesting,” he adds.

Along with tomatoes, Windset will have other commodities—including peppers and cucumbers--on display as it returns as a second-year exhibitor at United Fresh. “In previous years, we always walked the show as attendees,” says Shiho Uzawa, also of Windset. “It is a well-attended show by retailers, wholesalers and foodservice buyers which makes it a great place to showcase our innovative products.”

Education is key
As one of the show’s newer exhibitors, Madu notes that the show stands out for its educational component. “United Fresh always offers excellent, informative educational sessions throughout the year. We are still discussing which ones to attend,” adds Uzawa.

Along with education, Madu also says he appreciates the efforts that United puts back into supporting the industry, which is reflected in the show. “There are also a lot of other things they do behind the scenes such as mentoring young people in the produce industry and also lobbying for the industry,” adds Madu. “We find there’s a lot of benefit in supporting United for what it does for education year-round.”

For more information:
Jeff Madu
Shiho Uzawa
Windset Farms
Tel: +1 (604) 952-2799


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