Renovations to the company’s 46,000-square-foot facility are 80% complete, he said, with the general warehouse space “pretty much up to speed” and a new racking system in place.
He expects Tomato King’s new packing line to be operational by mid-February, or as soon as it meets HACCP specifications. Corn, broccoli and peppers are a few of the items being considered for the line.
“Customers are asking for packaging, and the fewer hands that touch the produce the happier they’ll be. Today you’ve got to add some value to the product,” he said.
Tomato King sells produce to independent retailers and jobbers throughout southern Ontario.
Veg-Pak Produce to open second space
Importer, distributor and packager Veg-Pak Produce Ltd., Toronto, is in negotiations to purchase a second facility, said president Vic Carnevale, who hopes the space will be ready by summer.
“Our packaging side is growing so quickly, we have lines we’re not using because we don’t have the space,” Carnevale said.
Best-sellers include Pop-I spinach, vegetable trays, onion varieties from pearl to Spanish and Indian vegetables in trays, he said.
The company is considering using one building for packaging and another for storage, Carnevale said.
Veg-Pak continues to bring in ethnic vegetables to meet the growing demand in Chinese and south Asian supermarkets in southern Ontario.
Wal-Mart tailors store to local customers
Nine-foot dragons and Chinese lanterns celebrated the Lunar New Year and Wal-Mart Canada’s first “Store of the Community,” recognizing the strong Asian customer base at the chain’s Scarborough Supercentre.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based chain uses census and market research data to identify multicultural population clusters around stores and tailors merchandise accordingly.
The Scarborough store, in northeastern Toronto, now offers an expanded produce section, live fish tanks, an Asian butcher shop and bakery.
“Our customers have responded to this new offering very favorably,” said Jim Pilkington, director of the four-year-old Store of the Community program.
“They’re pleased to know they can find everything they need, including traditional Asian foods, all under one roof,” he said