Florida tomatoes- Business updates - The Packer

Florida tomatoes- Business updates

12/06/2011 08:23:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Ag-Mart Produce boosts organic program
Ag-Mart Produce Inc., Plant City, Fla., which does business as Santa Sweets Inc., is increasing its organic tomato acreage.
Though it has grown and packed organic tomatoes for more than a decade, Ag-Mart looks to expand more into organics on its grape tomatoes and mature-greens, said J.M. Procacci, Ag-Mart’s chief operating officer and chief operating officer of Ag-Mart owner Procacci Bros. Sales Inc., Philadelphia.
“It is very difficult to grow organics (in Florida), but there are some varieties out there lending themselves to further expansion,” Procacci said.
“We are seeing good demand for organic tomatoes. We can’t overproduce it but there is a slight increase.”
Organics account for less than 10% of Ag-Mart’s production, Procacci said. He said the grower plans to increase acreage by 25%.

Tomato Thyme hires marketer
Michael Lacey now heads marketing and sales for Wimauma, Fla.-based Red Diamond Farms, a division of Tomato Thyme Corp.
He joined Red Diamond as its director of sales and marketing in July after working nearly five years for Plant City-based Ag-Mart Produce Inc., which does business as Santa Sweets Inc., where he was director of sales.
“I really enjoyed my time with Santa Sweets and (owner) Mr. Joseph Procacci,” Lacey said.
“I’m excited about all the new things going on here and am happy to be on board with Tomato Thyme and Red Diamond.”
Lacey formerly worked in sales and marketing for six years for Coosemans Tampa Inc., and for nearly six years served as vice president of sales for hydroponic heirloom tomatoes and microgreens grower Pinecrest Farms in Lithia, Fla.

West Coast Tomato adds acreage
West Coast Tomato Inc., Palmetto, Fla., is experimenting with new varieties.
Bob Spencer, vice president and sales manager, said the grower-shipper is doing more experimentation with tomato yellow leaf-resistant varieties.
Additionally, West Coast increased its acreage. West Coast is growing some more acres of romas and mature-greens.
The acreage boost may increase West Coast’s volume by 5%, Spencer said.
“We have been happy,” he said.
“The last few years have been pretty good for us.”
By Eastern Editor Doug Ohlemeier

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