Florida Tomatoes business updates - The Packer

Florida Tomatoes business updates

12/06/2013 11:39:00 AM
Tara Schupner

Pacific began production in early December, and harvest should last through late May.


Santa Sweets increases organic acreage

Santa Sweets Inc. has expanded its acreage of organic grape tomatoes.

The Plant City, Fla.-based grower-shipper increased this season’s acreage by 20%, said Rick Feighery, vice president of sales for Philadelphia-based Procacci Bros. Sales Corp. and Santa Sweets.

The grower-shipper increased acreage in central and south Florida, he said.

“We are seeing demand increase across all the organic commodities,” Feighery said. “We are still seeing double-digit increases every year. We have good relationships with our retail partners and continue to see the increase.”

Feighery said it’s challenging growing organics, which is tough anywhere, but because of the humid weather and pests particularly difficult in South Florida.


Immokalee Produce Shippers bought last fall

Immokalee Produce Shippers Inc., recently completed its first year under its new ownership.

Michael Melninkaitis, director of operations for Northeast Produce Inc., a Plainville, Conn.-based tomato repacker, and his wife Lisa Melninkaitis, purchased the Immokalee-based grower-shipper last fall.

Richard Levine sold the company upon retirement and serves as a consultant for the new operation, Melninkaitis said.

Levine’s daughter, Robin Levine-Provent, who was office manager and sold for the old company, sells for the new operation while her husband Bruce Provent is packinghouse manager.

Rick Levine, the former owner’s son, is farm manager.

The Melninkaitises, who are partners in the family-owned Northeast Produce, sell tomatoes from the Florida operation to Northeast Produce and to others and repack throughout the year for different customers, Michael Melninkaitis said.

Immokalee Produce Shippers started in 1986, and Northeast began in 1980.

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