BC Hothouse increases production and sales

Langley, British Columbia-based BC Hot House Foods Inc. anticipates a 28% increase in production volume in 2012 as compared to 2011, said Kevin Batt, director of sales.

Under the guidance of Mike Reed, who was named president of the company two years ago, the company is on a growth trajectory. It has increased its customer base and added growers, Batt said.

This year, BC Hot House is exporting greenhouse-grown sweet cherry tomatoes and Blushers-brand sweet pink cherry tomatoes to Japan, Batt said.

BC Hot House’s labels now carry quick-response codes.

The codes direct consumers’ smartphone Web browsers to grower profiles, recipes, storage tips, contests and other information, Batt said.

In February, the company was updating its websites, he said.


JemD Farms reaching PTI milestones

Jim DiMenna, president of JemD Farms, Leamington, Ontario, said JemD has passed the fifth of seven Produce Traceability Initiative milestones for all of its shipments. Milestone 5 requires encoding information into bar codes on case labels.

"We’re well on track," DiMenna said.

"(Traceability) is a key thing for this company, and we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be."

DiMenna is to be elected chairman of Canadian Produce Marketing Association in April. He currently serves as first vice chairman of the board.

DiMenna said he’s been a member of the association for about 23 years, and has served on the board for 17 of those years.


Mucci completes greenhouse expansion

Mucci Farms, Kingsville, Ontario, expects by late April to begin harvesting tomatoes on the vine and cocktail tomatoes from its 15-acre greenhouse expansion, said Joe Spano, vice president of sales and marketing.

The additional acreage was built in response to strong demand for the company’s Sapori cocktail and Sun Drop grape tomatoes.

Mucci also recently broke ground on a 30-acre expansion, which it expects to be in production by 2013.

Mucci is reworking its website to make it more consumer friendly, Spano said.

The site was retailer-oriented, but soon it will feature nutritional facts, recipes, company history, grower information and other content to connect with consumers.


Nature Fresh expects boost in distribution

Leamington, Ontario-based Nature Fresh Farms Inc. anticipates packing and distributing more than 6 million packages of bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and specialty vegetables from more than 160 acres of greenhouse production, said Jay Colasanti, sales and marketing representative.

All produce that Nature Fresh grows and markets is produced in high-technology greenhouses in Canada, he said.

The company owns and operates 130 greenhouse acres. It partners with other growers to market specialty items.

Oppenheimer markets for West Coast Tomato

In July, The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, expects to begin marketing field tomatoes from the newly formed West Coast Tomato Growers LLC, Oceanside, Calif., said Aaron Quon, greenhouse category director.

The tomatoes should be available through December.

West Coast is owned and operated by Harry Singh Jr., who was a leader of Oceanside Pole Tomato Sales Inc. and Harry Singh & Sons, until the businesses closed in 2011.


Village Farms opens Texas greenhouse

In early February, Delta, British Columbia-based Village Farms International launched an updated website.

The site structure is the same, but the branding and graphics are updated to reflect a new emphasis on using sensory words to connect with consumers, said Helen Aquino, marketing manager.

"We get a lot of e-mails and phone calls from consumers saying our tomatoes have ‘garden-fresh flavor,’" she said.

"We’re using these words as sensory drivers (on the website)."

The company also opened a 40,000-square-foot distribution facility in Arlington, Texas, said Doug Kling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer. It is twice the size of its previous Arlington facility.

The added space will enable Village Farms to efficiently and quickly move more volume, and it provides a second inspection point after product leaves the greenhouse.