Greenhouse growers are increasing distribution of specialty tomatoes, peppers, living herbs and other interesting items to appeal to curious consumers.
Mucci Farms, Kingsville, Ontario, expects to begin harvesting in late April its tomatoes on the vine and cocktail tomatoes from a new 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.
While field-grown tomatoes were popular for a while, there is now growing demand for hothouse grape tomatoes, even though their prices are higher, Spano said.
It took some experimenting to find the best varieties, but now hothouse grape tomatoes are consistently flavorful and have good shelf life.
Spano said the flavor profile is a top priority for Mucci’s production, and its retailer partners understand the flavor and want it consistently.
Grape tomatoes are becoming more popular with retailers, although they are more often found in upscale markets, Spano said.
"We’re slowly seeing penetration into every market segment," he said.
Leamington, Ontario-based JemD Farms’ Artisan Series is a changeable line of greenhouse-grown vegetables.
The company promotes its Artisan Series as being used in upscale retail markets, well-known restaurants and top chef’s kitchens.
Sabrina Pokomandy, marketing and public relations manager, said the Artisan Series appeals to consumers’ interest in innovative, high-quality produce with unique flavors.
The Artisan Series includes greenhouse-grown eggplant, miniature and conventional-sized cucumbers, and specialty tomatoes, said Jim DiMenna, president.
Pokomandy said specialty tomatoes available this season are cherry tomatoes on the vine, Scarlet Pearl mini grape tomatoes, Farmhouse Heritage heirloom-style tomatoes, Rosado pink tomatoes, and the Chef’s Collection of unconventional tomatoes.
The Chef’s Collection is a mix of bite-sized tomato varieties, including Sakura Honey, Tomato Berry, Sun Gold, Black Cherry and Yellow Pear, she said.
JemD plans to add Cocoa brown tomatoes and Delicasee bite-sized sweet tomatoes soon, Pokomandy said.
The Cocoa tomato, which it expects to be available in mid-April, will likely be packed in a two-pack. Pokomandy described the tomato’s color as "dark, rich chocolate" brown.