Doug OhlemeierPacific Tomato Growers Ltd.’s Victor Uribe (left), grape tomato general manager, and Jose Lozada, special projects and operations, at Pacific’s Wimauma grape tomato packinghouse. The Palmetto, Fla.-based Pacific recently completed a $3.5 million expansion of the packing operation. PALMETTO, Fla. — Pacific Tomato Growers Ltd. is expanding its commitment to the grape and cherry tomato categories by upgrading one of its packinghouses.
The grower-shipper recently completed a $3.5 million renovation project on its Wimauma packinghouse.
Finished in September, the project rebuilt the entire facility which included enclosing the operation and other packing and food safety improvements, said Jon Esformes, operating partner.
The upgrades added modern food safety technology including the addition of food-grade air and installed new packing and packaging machinery for better sorting and grading, Esformes said.
Pacific outgrew the older facility and needed a more efficient operation to keep up with growing volume and demand, he said.
“The changes allow us a tremendous amount of flexibility and will make us better able to size and color sort and produce a variety of packages all at the same time,” Esformes said. “This allows us to bring efficiencies back into our system, cut our costs and give us a tremendous amount of room for growth.”
Another $1 million addition is scheduled to be completed by next fall, Esformes said.
The facility allows Pacific to pack grape tomatoes in clamshells and the bulk 20-pound cartons as well as in other proprietary packages, Esformes said.
Along with Tracy, Calif.-based Pacific Triple E Produce Corp., Pacific also grows and markets Sunripe- and Suncoast-branded round tomatoes in Quincy, Palmetto-Ruskin, Immokalee, Bainbridge, Ga., Beaufort, S.C., Melva, Va., and in the Mexican states of Baja, Jalisco, Sinaloa and Sonora via McAllen, Texas, and Nogales, Ariz.