The newest retail push at Deardorff Family Farms in Oxnard, Calif., is a push backward, according to Tom Deardorff, owner of the vegetable grower-shipper.
The 75-year-old company announced in late April it is moving into the branded tomato category with Tasti-Lee, a proprietary variety that the Deardorff says combines “health, flavor and freshness” in an “old-fashioned” tomato.
“It offers the consumer a true tomato taste that can only come from vine-ripe, field-grown tomatoes, Deardorff said.
The product was launched on the East Coast last year to great success. Deardorff Family Farms will be in charge of West Coast production and sales for Tasti-Lee.
Bejo Seeds Inc. developed the variety and licensed it to other shippers on the East Coast last year, Deardorff said.
“They developed a marketing program around the variety to build consumer awareness and name recognition and had some success on the East Coast,” he said.
Taking charge of the program, as well as other Deardorff retail initiatives, is Vasken Khanjian, whom Deardorff recently hired as business development director.
He brought a background in produce packaging and distribution that will suit his new position well, Deardorff said.
“He’ll help retail customers channel it through their social media, ads or other marketing programs,” Deardorff said.
The new product will be packaged with a punnet — a type of display basket covered by a flow-wrap — in the company’s new flow system.
Volume will be limited in the first year, Deardorff said, declining to provide specific projected volume figures.
The tomato is expected to ship from late June until November, Deardorff said.