“We’re at the show because we want to stay in front of our customers and support the produce industry. The pandemic has changed how we’re creating and growing those relationships,” says Anthony Otto of Magic Sun in Richmond, VA.
So is the thinking behind Magic Sun’s participation in the PMA Fresh Summit taking place virtually this year October 13-20. That and taking advantage of the unique opportunity a virtual trade show brings about. “These allow attendees to efficiently seek out and connect with the vendors they want to learn more about,” says Otto.
At the show, Magic Sun will have information about its supplies of both conventional and organic tomatoes which the company has worked on increasing year-round availability of. (It’s also focused on expanding its organic availability.) “We are starting to approach our peak season in the next several weeks. We’ve got new and vigorous plants that are producing a good crop of tomatoes.” says Otto. “We’re slightly above last year’s volume since we’ve added on some extra acreage.”
Tomato demand up
He adds that demand for hot house tomatoes this year has been very high, particularly on the retail side of the business. “Because of a pandemic, people are going to restaurants less so demand for foodservice is down. And retail demand is much higher because everyone’s eating at home,” says Otto.
He adds that pricing this year on tomatoes is up from last year at this time. “Greenhouse tomatoes on the vine have strong pricing and I expect them to stay strong. Beefsteak tomatoes, the pricing is still better than last year but softer due to competition from round field tomatoes,” he says.
Looking ahead to the show, Fresh Summit’s virtual experience will allow the company to not only show its line of tomatoes but also give visitors a chance to take a closer look at the company. “That includes information about our CEICKOR University,” says Otto of the 17-acre campus and greenhouse located in Querétaro, México. “We’re doing some exciting work with new student programs including offering a new athletic program. More importantly, we’re also developing a new tomato variety for us to harvest next Fall.”
Displaying initiatives like this work well in the virtual realm. “The nice thing about online trade shows is you can put a lot of content in there and people can browse it at their leisure,” says Otto.