Aiton doubts if that scenario will repeat itself in 2011.
“We should be able to feature more colored bells this season,” he said. “We expect a more normal year than last year.”
Greenhouse product is not only more uniform and of higher quality, said Danny Mandel, a principal and chief executive officer of Nogales-based SunFed. It’s also more sustainable, requiring less water and fewer chemicals and fertilizers than open-field agriculture.
Food safety concerns and more emphasis on quality are the major factors driving demand, which continues to increase, said Alberto Maldanado, general manager of Nogales-based Apache Produce Co.
“There’s less and less open-field and more and more greenhouse and shadehouse” production, Maldanado said.
Volumes should be up significantly across the board to meet increased demand this season, said Matt Wright, director of procurement for Leamington, Ontario-based Westmoreland Sales.
The company expects a similar mix, percentage-wise, of beefsteak tomatoes, tomatoes on-the-vine, cucumbers, English cucumbers and colored bell peppers, Wright said.
Consistency and quality continue to drive higher greenhouse sales industry-wide, Wright said.
“Retailers are able to get something they can really count on,” he said.
Greenhouse-grown also appeals to that most important of produce consumer gauges: their eyes.
“Consumers tend to still base what they buy on what looks good, and hothouse can control how it looks,” he said.