Snacking products have become increasingly popular in recent years, but MamaMia Produce has been supplying the market with their mini cucumbers for the past 15 years. Daniel Mosquera says: “We were actually one of the first companies to get the item into retail stores, when it was still relatively unknown.”
Greenhouse grown in the Dominican Republic’s mountains
MamaMia Produce’s mini cucumbers are grown in greenhouses located in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. “The altitude of the location makes the product unique,” Mosquera shares. “Most other producers grow them at sea level, and you can really see the difference in the products. Our cucumbers are extra crunchy, have a darker green color, and have a very consistent 1-inch diameter. Usually fruit that is grown at higher elevation has better quality than those grown at sea level, and this has definitely proven true for our mini cucumbers.”
The greenhouses in which the cucumbers are grown were built by MamaMia Produce themselves. “We don’t use third party builders for our greenhouses, we have constructed them all ourselves. Of course, it was a bit of a challenge to build them up in the mountains, but we’ve become pretty good at it. The quality that the higher elevation brings is worth it.”
Pandemic makes air freight challenging
In order to ensure the product’s freshness, MamaMia Produce brings it into the US by air freight. The past few months, due to the pandemic, this has been challenging. “The space of the air freight was reduced by about 50%, and commodities like medicines, or any other products destined for the hospitals and front lines were given preferred airspace. But we’ve been in the business for many years and have built very good relationships, which allowed us to be able to produce and pre-book space, so we’ve been able to continue to supply all our commitments.”
MamaMia Produce also supplies the foodservice industry. This side of the demand, due to the pandemic, dropped off in the past few months. Fortunately, the company was able to make up for this loss in demand because the retail demand for their products spiked. “The demand coming from retail makes up for the foodservice side, and even goes beyond that. The demand has been enormous, but fortunately we’ve had enough supply to meet it,” Mosquera says.
He adds: “The real challenge was the logistics, as well as the operations in the distribution center due to the pandemic precautions. But we have a great team – we’re a family and can rely on each other and handle the challenges.”
New developments: organic and private label
MamaMia has recently added an organic offering of the mini cucumbers to their assortment, which has been met with great enthusiasm. “We started with this two years ago, and it really took off. Now, with the pandemic, we see that the consumers are seeking out organic products even more,” Mosquera shares.
He concludes: “Last year, we also started working with private labels for our customers. We’re always looking to grow and expand, and in the next few months we’ll be looking at our winter program and make modifications so we can be sure to meet the new demand.”