(Oct. 30) Taylor & Fulton Inc., one of the East Coast’s major tomato growers and packers, plans to stop production.

Jay Taylor, president of the Palmetto, Fla.-based family-run operation, told Florida’s Sarasota Herald-Tribune that he planned to grow tomatoes through March or April.

Taylor, quoted in an Oct. 19 report, said the 54-year-old company was preparing to change direction but that it was too early to provide specifics.

Taylor & Fulton has tomato growing operations in Palmetto, Immokalee and Quincy, Fla., and in Mappsville, Va.

Taylor didn’t return calls to The Packer on Oct. 29.

Tony DiMare, vice president of the DiMare Co., Homestead, Fla., and president of the Florida Tomato Exchange trade group, said he wasn’t surprised by the announcement.

He said Taylor & Fulton is another unfortunate example of a longstanding company deciding to bow out of the industry. He said the fact that a lot of other companies have dropped out in the past six or seven years indicates the industry is not in good shape.

Increasing production and packing costs in the areas of food safety, fuel and labor have hurt the produce industry, DiMare said.

Another Florida tomato shipper, Big Red Tomato Packers, Fort Pierce, shut its doors in September.

Taylor & Fulton to drop out of tomato industry
Jay Taylor, president of Taylor & Fulton Inc., Palmetto, Fla., says the company plans to grow tomatoes through March or April, and then exit the tomato industry in favor of a yet-to-be-specified new direction.