(UPDATED COVERAGE, May 3) Deardorff Family Farms is bringing the Tasti-Lee tomato to the West Coast.

Oxnard, Calif.-based Deardorff will grow and market the Tasti-Lee, a proprietary variety introduced on the East Coast in 2011, for Western markets, said Vasken Khanjian, Deardorff’s recently-hired new business development director, who will oversee the company’s launch of the Tasti-Lee.

The Tasti-Lee was developed by the University of Florida Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences’ Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm.

Research by U.S. Department of Agriculture and University of Florida scientists rated the Tasti-Lee higher in lycopene than other varieties and found that consumers preferred the Tasti-Lee over all other tomatoes in taste tests.

“Yields and shelf life are comparable to our other vine ripe varieties, but Tasti-Lee is bred to be able to be harvestable and shippable at higher ripening stages,” Khanjian said.

East Coast growers of the variety include Martinez Farms, Ruskin, Fla.; Red Diamond Farms, Wimauma, Fla.; Flavor 1st Growers & Packers, Mills River, N.C.; and Wm. P. Hearne Produce, Wimauma.

New flow-pack machine, new offerings

Khanjian, whose background is in wholesale produce and produce packing, also will help develop new Deardorff Farms products made possible by the company’s new flow-pack machine.

Visalia, Calif.-based Primary Package is importing Deardorff’s new Italian-made Lyra 600 flow-pack machine.

“It will allow us to introduce new items which are packaged more efficiently and economically than traditional clamshell and overwrap tray models,” Khanjian said. “Flow-pack is well-established in Europe and is catching on fast in the U.S.”

The Lyra 600 will allow Deardorff to use modified atmosphere packaging with custom film specifications, Khanjian said.