Leamington, Ontario-based Nature Fresh Farms offers a full lineup of greenhouse vegetables for the snacking market, said Stephanie Swatkow, the company’s marketing director.
Items include Little Snackers Cocktail Cucumbers, Mini-Sweet Peppers and an extensive roster of tomatoes, including Cherry Tomatoes, Cherry On-The-Vine (Red, Orange,and Ombré), Red Grape Tomatoes and a Mixed Medley.
The latest addition to the Nature Fresh snacking portfolio are greenhouse-grown strawberries.
“Snacking is a very important category in fresh produce,” Swatkow said. “Everyone is looking to see how they can make themselves healthier – finding better, smarter ways to snack that will help boost immunity. Parents are constantly trying to figure out how they can sneak a few more nutritious snacks into a lunch box. Bite sized produce makes it a whole lot easier”
As consumers’ snacking wants and needs have evolved, so has Nature Fresh’s approach to the category, she added.
“We have become a bit more sophisticated. The snacking tomato category allows us to really to make an impact with flavor. This is where seed selection and growing processes really make an impact on flavor and texture -and appearance.”
Nature Fresh’s different snacking tomatoes all have distinct flavors, Swatkow said. The company’s cherry tomatoes are very sweet, for instance, and its newest tomato – the Hiiro – is very sweet with a deep umami flavor.
In 2021, Nature Fresh swept the Greenhouse Vegetable Awards in the category of Best Bite Sized Tomato, winning 1st, 2nd and 3rd place against leading North American growers. And its new strawberry came in 2nd place in the Sweetest Strawberry category.
After a trial run for the strawberries last year, Nature Fresh will follow with a full launch in the first quarter of this year. Hiiros will also get the full launch treatment later this year. Both products will ship under the company’s high-flavor, premium black label.
“We’re very excited about sharing these products with the world as we really do feel they are so amazing.”
Coral Gables, Fla.-based Fresh Del Monte and its subsidiary Mann Packing Co. are currently marketing avocados for guacamole and assortments of fresh fruit and veggies as snacking products, said Pablo Rivero, the company’s vice president of marketing for North America.
In addition, Mann Packing’s value-added fresh veggies are commonly consumed on a variety of party trays alongside other snacking products such as dip, chips and pretzels, hummus and cheese.
With snacking still on the upward trajectory, those and other value-added products are a perfect fit, Rivero said.
“We believe the fresh-cut produce market continues to be one of the fastest-growing categories in the fresh produce segment. It’s largely due to recent consumer trends favoring healthy and conveniently packaged ready-to-eat foods. This directly corresponds with the mix of snacking products over the years, as both brands have seen a consumer increase and desire for produce and convenience snacking.”
Del Monte and Mann Packing are able to deliver the highest quality fresh cut and snacking products thanks to vertically integrated operations and just-in-time delivery, Rivero said.
That ensures great quality from the company’s farms to the end consumer, unbroken cold chain from field to store, innovative packaging, no additives or preservatives, produce prepared and packaged in our own facilities, state-of-the-art processing equipment, operating under strict food-safety, quality management systems.
Due to the surging demand for snack products, Del Monte and Mann Packing Co. are currently exploring different snacking options to share with consumers and retailers in 2022. The brands will also offer several promotions this year and will be sharing those plans with consumers and retailers soon, Rivero said.
Help from the real snacking experts
Fresno, Calif.-based raisin giant Sun-Maid is enlisting the help of kids to help it come up with innovative snacks.
Six kids ages 6-12 will be chosen for the company’s second annual Board of Imagination. Kids will work with Sun-Maid executives to help them make decision on future product innovations.
The Six kids – five selected via a nationwide search and one via an internal Sun-Maid employee competition – will receive a $5,000 donation for their school, $5,000 for a college fund in the form of a 529 donation, and notably, an entire year's worth of Sun-Maid raisin snacks to enjoy with their classmates.
Through quarterly meetings with the Sun-Maid executive team, the kid board members are tasked with sparking imagination and creativity, while inspiring positive change, according to Sun-Maid. They’re assigned product-related challenges and provide feedback that truly informs the direction of the next snacking innovations.
"Imagination plays a crucial role in everything Sun-Maid does, and we know that there is no better place to turn to than the unapologetically creative minds of children," said Harry Overly, Sun-Maid’s president and CEO. "We were thoroughly impressed with the value our inaugural Board of Imagination kids delivered in year one, and we can't wait to hear from more kids from all over the country who are eager to share their imaginative ideas with us."
Board members will be named in March and formally seated in April.