KINGSVILLE, Ontario — Several greenhouse operations in Southwestern Ontario have introduced new products in recent months.
Clifford Produce Sales Inc.
With two awards for their eco trays in the past year, officials at Clifford Produce Sales Inc. in Ruthven, Ontario, plan to build on their success by continuing to respond to customer demands.
Jennifer Selwood, sales coordinator, said in mid-January the company will focus on sustainable packaging and other sustainable business practices as it moves forward in 2012 with a reorganized staff.
She said the 16 grower shareholders of Clifford as well as the company’s customers all have a commitment to using recycled materials and decreasing packaging when possible.
The eco trays are lightweight yet strong enough to protect the fresh produce they hold.
They are covered with a breathable film to help lengthen shelf life and minimize shrink for retailers. The biodegradable trays earned a second place in new packaging at the United Fresh Produce Association show in May.
Clifford was the only produce company among about 400 members present to win recognition at the 2011 PAC Leadership Awards where the eco trays earned a bronze award for sustainable packaging. PAC is a Canadian packaging association recently rebranded to include service throughout North America.
Erie James Ltd.
As it looks to its 75th anniversary in 2015, Erie James Ltd. of Leamington, Ontario, is a third-generation company that is not resting on past successes, according to Stephanie Lariviere, regulatory manager.
In recent months the company introduced single-pack bell peppers, Lariviere said, and it is continuing to grow its market share in the area of mini cucumbers.
The company’s snack packs of mini cukes aimed at children — Sunsation brand Cool Cukes — are gaining fans, especially as healthy eating and anti-childhood obesity campaigns in the U.S. and Canada continue to pick up steam, Lariviere said.
Following the introduction of new company and brand logos at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in the fall of 2011, JemD Farms of Leamington, Ontario, plans a hard launch of its Artisan Series this spring.
The new look of the JemD Farms logo and its Red Sun and Golden Sun brands for its Canadian and Mexican greenhouse vegetables, respectively, was specifically designed to give the company and its products a fresher look, said Sabrina Pokomandy, marketing manager.
The Artisan Series was similarly developed and is described as an “ever-changing line of innovative and ground-breaking produce” by the company.
The line offers a Chef’s Collection of unconventional bite-sized tomatoes that includes Sakura Honey, Tomato Berry, Sun Gold, Black Cherry and Yellow Pear varieties.
Other products in the Artisan Series: Cherry tomatoes; Scarlet Pearls tomatoes; Farmhouse Heritage tomatoes; and Rosado tomatoes.
Pokomandy said the next scheduled products from JemD Farms are the Cocoa and Delicasee tomatoes.
In the last months of 2011, Mastronardi Produce of Leamington, Ontario, introduced snack packs of miniature tomatoes and seasonal soup kits because of consumer demands for convenience items in the fresh produce aisle.
The Compliments line includes mini sweet red tomatoes that Mastronardi’s vice president of sales and marketing, Joe Sbrocchi, said are particularly popular with kids, and therefore moms, too.
Another top seller for Mastronardi is the Zima tomato, marketed under the company’s Sunset brand and billed as “seriously sweet.”
In November Mastronardi introduced the Delano tomato, which Sbrocchi said has a different sugar-to-acid ratio.
Pure Hot House Foods Inc.
The Chinese are celebrating the Year of the Dragon, but people at Pure Hot House Foods Inc. in Leamington, Ontario, are celebrating the year of growth in 2012, according to company officials.
Part of the growth is in the form of rebranding, which the company launched with prototype labels for its Pure Flavor brand at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in October. Sandra Dick, assistant director of marketing, said the new brand will be used on new blends this spring.
Along with the Pure Flavor brand, Pure Hot House introduced sweet miniature tomatoes called Juno Bites in 2011 and Aurora Bites, which are specialty mini sweet peppers in tricolor assortments.
Other new products under the Pure Flavor brand are griller and roaster assortments of fresh-cut vegetables.
Dick said the company is offering them on a seasonal basis with the grillers designed for warm weather outdoor cooking and the roasters designed for indoor winter use.
Regardless of the season, the griller tray assortments, which include peppers, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, mini tomatoes and other fresh-cut vegetables, can be used in the microwave, even though they appear to be made of aluminum.
In keeping with the Pure Hot House commitment to sustainability, the trays are 100% recyclable.
A new heirloom tomato is in the research and development phase with Westmoreland Sales of Leamington, Ontario, hoping to begin trials of it this year.
Dino Dilaudo, sales consultant for Westmoreland, said in mid-January the new heirloom tomato will be marketed under the company’s flagship brand, TopLine.
The Canadian greenhouse company is working with partner growers in Mexico, also, and is introducing other specialties relatively regularly, Di Laudo said. He said the company is also finding increasing success with club-style packs such as triple packs of cucumbers.