The most popular product for North American greenhouse grower Red Sun Farms is their Sweetpops. “They are quickly redefining our snacking tomato standards,” says Harold Paivarinta with the company. “This variety is all about delivering an explosion of flavor in a snack-size tomato,” he added. It is a sweeter than sweet snacking tomato that has already established a dedicated consumer following who connected with the brand and redefined the expectation of sweetness in tomatoes. “Every year, we are seeing an increased demand for snacking varieties, especially varieties that bring a unique sensory experience. We attribute this to a smarter and more health-conscious consumer that is looking for a nutritious snack or meal option. These consumers are seeking a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to meet all their snacking and mealtime tastes.”
Between Canada, the US, and Mexico, Red Sun Farms is able to grow tomatoes year-round. This time of year, however, the majority of tomato production acreage is in Mexico. Ontario-grown mini cukes are an exception, with a 12-month program in Canada. The company’s lit acreage up North also features Beef, TOV, cucumbers, and a one-of-a-kind LED light bell pepper crop which is entering its third full season under lights.
With tomatoes being their single largest product category, Red Sun Farms has invested in additional land to support future growth and development. The additional property was recently acquired with the goal of increasing the production capacity of tomato varietals. Although it is too early to lay out the plans in detail, growth in at least two tomato categories is earmarked for the recently acquired acreage. “While plans are firming up, we continue to focus on delivering quality and flavor while meeting all of our customer demands,” said Paivarinta. Red Sun Farms is looking forward to sharing their growth plans in 2023.
Expansion plans are positive news in a time when growers are faced with significant cost increases. “Reinvention and adaptation are constant at Red Sun. We are fortunate to have solid supply partners and excellent retail partners to collaborate with in times such as these to help drive efficiencies through our respective areas of expertise,“ Paivarinta shared. Red Sun Farms’ collaboration with their solid supply partners and excellent retail partners helps drive efficiencies. Although these changes are big steps and take time to implement, they are long-term improvements that will ensure Red Sun’s operations continue to survive in future markets.
Sustainable business practices have become a key element in creating efficiencies. “We are a proud industry leader in sustainable agriculture, closely working with packaging suppliers to develop new and sustainable options.” In the past six to seven years, the team has challenged their packaging suppliers to push sustainable technology. This resulted in the commercialization of new film technologies, as well as increased recycle content in clamshells, fiber punnets, compostable PLUs, and labels with washable adhesives. “There is still much more opportunity for sustainable improvements through technology, and we look forward to working with our suppliers in bringing better solutions to our consumers.”
In addition to packaging, the company’s farms have been utilizing sustainable practices in water recycling, yield optimization, and minimizing food waste.