San Diego/Baja Tomato business updates - The Packer

San Diego/Baja Tomato business updates

08/27/2013 09:43:00 AM
Tom Burfield

Andrew & Williamson focuses on heirlooms

San Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce is focusing on its heirloom tomato varieties and its snacking tomatoes this summer.

The heirloom program, developed in response to customers’ desire for a better-tasting tomato, is really a resurgence of tomato flavors like the brandywine red, black prince and Cherokee purple varieties, said John King, vice president of sales.

The snacking tomato program features red grape tomatoes, golden grape tomatoes and red cherry tomatoes.

 

Tasti-Lee tomato brings success for Deardorff

The Tasti-Lee brand tomato from Deardorff Family Farms, Oxnard, Calif., is doing well in its second year, said David Cook, sales manager. The Tasti-Lee is a round tomato that is “solid, hard and firm with exceptional shelf life and a really good slicing tomato,” he said.

The product is packaged in an overwrapped tray with several counts available, all weighing 1 pound.

“The important thing is for us to arrange a year-round supply of those,” he said.

Company president Tom Deardorff said the company started working with partners in Mexico last year and were successful filling orders during most of the off-season months.

“We think this year we will be able to bridge the gap even better so that we can continue with a year-round supply,” he said.

An organic version will be available this year, but only through the fall.

 

Fresh Pac launches organic program

Fresh Pac International, Oceanside, Calif., plans to launch a full-line organic tomato program this season, said Brian Bernauer, director of sales and marketing. The company expects to start the shade house program in Baja California in September and continue through November, Bernauer said. The first year the program is expected to include limited volume of round, roma and grape tomatoes.

The company also has begun an heirloom tomato program in Oceanside. Fresh Pac used to grow tomatoes locally but abandoned the program when land, labor, water and other expenses became prohibitive and began sourcing from Baja California. Test plots of the heirloom tomatoes will produce through early October.

The project will start with conventional product but also likely will include organic tomatoes, Bernauer said. At first, the tomatoes will be available for local customers, but eventually the program may be expanded outside of California.

 

Royal Flavor tests organic tomato deal

Royal Flavor LLC, San Diego, is testing an organic program out of Baja California this season, said sales manager Steve Yasuda. The program will involve tomatoes, roma tomatoes and mini peppers.

Limited quantities will be available into November, when the program will transition to the Culiacan area in mainland Mexico, Yasuda said. The Baja California program will enable the company to offer organic tomatoes year-round. It likely will be expanded next season if it proves successful, Yasuda said.

 

West Coast switches back to old favorite

West Coast Tomato Growers, Oceanside, Calif., has switched back to one of the original tomato varieties that the company used to produce when it was known as Harry Singh & Sons, said Aaron Quon, greenhouse and vegetables category director for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, which markets the product.

“It’s a different variety from what we used last year,” he said. “It’s yielding better-tasting fruit with longer shelf life.”

Sizing also is better than last season, he said.



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