Business updates: Toronto Know Your Market

03/05/2010 03:25:00 PM
Cynthia David

Canadian Fruit & Produce

Canadian Fruit & Produce Co. has moved across the parking lot into two units at the Ontario Food Terminal purchased last fall from Dominion Citrus.

Canadian Fruit vice president Randy Weinstein said the refurbished units will help the wholesale company broaden its product line and improve customer service.

“We want to offer faster delivery time and better flow, and we’ll have more docks to receive produce,” he said. “It’s going to be very nice.”

Canada Fruit specializes in melons, peppers, limes, zucchini, eggplant and green beans, he said, adding that the company the unit it has vacated.

Canadian Fruit is also retrofitting a 65,000-square-foot warehouse it purchased in Mississauga, about 40 minutes west of downtown Toronto, Weinstein said.

Freshline Foods

Since moving into a new repacking facility last year, Freshline Foods’ organic line has been a big hit with Toronto retailers, said Anthony Pitoscia, vice president of FA Organics.

Pitoscia imports and sells organic and conventional produce through Fresh Advancements at the Ontario Food Terminal. Both companies are subsidiaries of Bamford Produce in Mississauga.

Pitoscia said Freshline is able to break down boxes and pack anything from two overwrapped cucumbers to four organic apples in a biodegradable tray to oranges in a 2-pound, UPC bar-coded biodegradable bag.

“Retailers like it because it’s a guaranteed ring at the front end and it gives them an opportunity to have finished product and a good display,” said Pitoscia, who sells to Sobeys, Metro, Loblaw and independents.

Best sellers include 3-pound plastic bags of Canadian potatoes and U.S. onions.

National Produce Marketing

Building partnerships with growers in Central and South America has led National Produce Marketing to consider creating its own brand of produce.

“We’ve registered the name Mariposa,” said president Anthony Formusa, “but we’re still fine-tuning the details.”

The Toronto-based importer has become known for its tropical fruit, including mangoes from Peru and Mexico, pineapples from Costa Rica and papaya from Brazil, Mexico and Ecuador.

“It’s an exciting category with enormous potential,” Formusa said, citing a survey finding only 14% of Canadian consumers have ever eaten a papaya.

Ontario Produce Marketing Association

The Ontario Produce Marketing Association’s Gimme 5 campaign to get Ontario children eating more fruits and vegetables kicks off 2010 with a booth at Toronto’s Green Living Show in late April.

Along with food-centered games and activities, fresh fruit and vegetable samples will be offered, said Ashlee Mclean, director of marketing & communications.

In May, younger children will be invited to enter the Gimme 5 Sticker Contest — placing fruit and veggie stickers in the appropriate color group and mailing it in for a chance to win a digital camera.

Children will also have a chance to win a Wii Console and Wii Fit program by creating fast, fun and nutritious recipes, Mclean said.

Both contests will be featured in the national Today’s Parent magazine and on the magazine’s Web site, Mclean said. Details will also appear on the OPMA Web site www.gimme5.ca.

Throughout the summer, the association will sponsor cooking demonstrations for kids at the kitchen in several Loblaw stores, Mclean said, and participate in CBC Kids Days at the Ontario Science Centre. In November, there will be a Gimme 5 booth at the national Royal Winter Fair in Toronto.

Tomato King

After 20 years at the Ontario Food Terminal, Tomato King Ltd. is merging with its next-door neighbor Mel-O-Ripe Brands, owned by Lorenzo Scala.

The combined company will retain the Tomato King name, said Vince Carpino, who has bought out his two longtime partners in an amicable split.

“It’s going to be a great merger,” said Carpino, who doesn’t yet have a new title. “Our new company will be bigger and stronger, we both have dynamic, experienced sales teams and we’ll offer more selection and service to our customers.”

Carpino said Mel-O-Ripe currently carries more fruit than Tomato King, such as apples, pears and cherries, and does some direct-to-store delivery.

He said he hopes the walls will be down and the new, expanded showroom open by early April.



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