Courtesy Del Monte Fresh ProduceDel Monte Fresh Produce has started tomato production at newly constructed greenhouses in Jalapa, Guatemala.Del Monte Fresh Produce has begun production of beefsteak and vine tomatoes in Jalapa, Guatemala, after finishing the first phase of a greenhouse construction project there.
Shipments to North America have started, according to a news release. While Del Monte Fresh’s greenhouse products are available year-round, the core season will run October through June.
The company built 16 hydroponic greenhouses over 10 hectares; a packing plant; and support facilities. The greenhouses are 90 miles from Guatemala City, and halfway between ports on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans – Port Santo Tomas and Port Queztal, respectively.
“The geographical location of the facilities is one of their many distinctive and advantageous features,” Dennis Christou, Del Monte Fresh’s vice president of marketing for North America, said in the release. “The proximity to two Guatemalan ports allows for easy and efficient access to all U.S. ports, helping to minimize our environmental footprint.”
Christou called the tomato program a natural fit for the company.
“Since the inception of the brand, premium quality tomatoes have often been associated with the Del Monte name and it is so much a part of our company that even our logo originates from the shape of a tomato,” he said in the release.
The company’s greenhouse expansion efforts continue. Del Monte Fresh has already begun construction of greenhouse facilities in Costa Rica for tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and eggplant, among others. Del Monte has proprietary greenhouse varieties in its pipeline.
Each of the 45-by-144-meter greenhouses has automated butterfly window vents to help keep pests out; automated irrigation; fertilization systems; water filters; and high-tech fogger systems. The greenhouses are also designed with internal drainage systems to help prevent runoff into nearby rivers and reservoirs.
“The enclosed environment also helps mitigate food safety concerns,” Christou said in the release.
So far, Del Monte Fresh has hired 257 permanent employees for the greenhouses. The number is expected to double as production and construction go forward.