A group of growers and distributors is increasing distribution of a tomato snack that targets children and hungry on-the-go consumers.

Tomato growers launch Handy Candy grape tomatoesHandy Candy LLC a separate company formed in 2011 by employees of Birmingham, Ala.-based Flavor-Pic Tomato Co. Inc. markets the Handy Candy-branded 4-ounce resealable cups of grape tomatoes.

Though Flavor-Pic began introducing the product in light volumes this spring, Rick Murrah, Flavor-Pic vice president of sales and marketing, said retail reception is increasing, with U.S. and Canadian distribution.

"We wanted to bring a consumer-friendly product to the market that not only has great flavor and value, but also helps drive healthy eating initiatives among adults and children," Murrah said. "With the national interest in eating fruits and vegetables, this is a great time for such products and lends itself well to busy professionals and smaller households and other consumer groups."

Flavor-Pic, Wimauma, Fla.-based Red Diamond Farms, Veg Fresh Farms LLC, Anaheim, Calif., and hothouse packer-marketer Special Edition Marketing, Leamington, Ontario, grow and distribute the tomatoes. Other distributors are Grant County Foods LLC, Dry Ridge, Ky., Capital City Fruit Co. Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, and United Salad Co., Portland, Ore.

Murrah said Handy Candy is preparing to introduce a 4-ounce blueberry convenience cup.

During the spring, John Kontos, president of Birmingham distributor Alex Kontos Fruit Co. Inc., purchased the majority ownership of Flavor-Pic from Shane Stevenson, Flavor-Pic"s president.

Murrah, Stevenson and Jerry Williams, Flavor-Pic"s salesman and buyer, own Handy Candy, which operates separately.