Having ready-to-cook meals delivered to your door is a popular trend for busy consumers, which makes it an intriguing business opportunity for produce companies.
DNO Produce is adding a 5,000-square-foot expansion to one of its four Columbus, Ohio, buildings to accommodate growth in its processing and repacking business, vice president of sales and marketing Alex DiNovo said.
“We’re expanding for one of our larger customers’ anticipated growth,” DiNovo said. “It’s an exciting area of growth for produce business.”
DiNovo declined to name the customer but said much of the expansion is specifically for assembling ready-to-cook meal kits.
“Produce is a big part of it, but we assemble the whole thing,” he said. “We are supplying one third of the country for this particular customer. They’ve been in this space about four years, and they’re growing rapidly.”
DiNovo said the expansion is expected to be completed in September. The project also will create a dedicated onion room in the same building. DiNovo said DNO is processing more onions for manufacturers in the region who use onions as an ingredient.
DNO also is in the planning stages of adding a commercial kitchen that would have a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector on site. That would allow the company to produce products that contain meat, cheese and produce — such as chef salads — in one package, DiNovo said.
“We think there is a lot of demand,” DiNovo said, who recently was named to the new class for the United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program.
The project would involve remodeling about 10,000 square feet of existing storage space into a processing area.
“It’s quite a bit of money,” said DiNovo, who said he would like to see the project completed within the next 18 months.
In other news, DNO has named Brian Ricciardo to the newly created position of vice president of operations. Ricciardo previously was director of operations for Sunrise Foods Inc., Columbus.
“He’s got a lot of experience, especially in the value-added side of things,” DiNovo said.