Expanding its presence in the tomato market, Del Monte Fresh Produce plans to grow tomatoes on land it recently bought in Florida and Virginia.

On Oct. 2, the Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc. stated its intentions to grow tomatoes on land it purchased in a series of bankruptcy auctions of property formerly owned by East Coast Brokers and Packers Inc.

Del Monte enters Florida, Virginia tomato dealsThe purchase involves 7,200 acres in central and south Florida and on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

“We are very excited to expand our vertical integration in our tomato product line with this acquisition in North America,” Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, Del Monte’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in the release.

“The acquisition of field grown tomato assets in Florida and Virginia complements our state-of-the-art greenhouse operations in Costa Rica and Guatemala, gives us the opportunity to continue to expand our tomato and vegetable product offerings, and enables us to provide our customers with high-quality, locally grown produce, strengthening our competitive position in the tomato industry.” Once a major Florida tomato grower-shipper, East Coast Brokers closed last fall.

On Sept. 5, a bankruptcy judge approved the purchase.

The auctions of East Coast’s facilities and assets owned by the Madonia family and related entities generated $75 million.