In 2021, Kingsville, Ontario-based DelFrescoPure completed its 25-acre expansion under lights, said Ray Mastronardi, the company’s vice president of sales.

DelFrescoPure is using the new space to grow more than 30 varieties of tomatoes, including beefsteaks, on-the-vine and specialties.

“It’s allowed us to produce more tomatoes and thus help meet the increasing demand for delicious and sustainably made tomatoes,” Mastronardi said.

Next on the expansion agenda for DelFrescoPure is more greenhouse strawberry acreage, he added.

Since launching its YES!Berries strawberry program, reception has been excellent, Mastronardi said. Acreage has already expanded once, to 17 acres.

Having a large percentage of its greenhouses under lights gives DelFrescoPure an added advantage against Mother Nature’s whims, Mastronardi said. Heading into late winter, the company reported excellent quality and sizing on both tomatoes and strawberries.

In its conventional greenhouses, meanwhile, DelFrescoPure was busy planting cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers in January.

“Weather permitting, we expect to pick a similar yield this March,” Mastronardi said. “And we only expect the demand to continue to increase as society continues to resume normal activities.”

Sustainability is one of the biggest topics in greenhouse-grown these days, Mastronardi said, and DelFrescoPure is doing its part to reduce its carbon footprint. The company recently added a few cogeneration units to help cut back on energy usage.

“We’re always researching and looking into ways to make sure that we are producing in the most sustainable way with the least amount of waste involved,” he said.


Snacking, organic demand help drive surge

Two Pandemic Era trends that Leamington, Ont.-based Pure Flavor has been tracking should continue to evolve in 2022, said Chris Veillon, the company’s chief marketing officer: increased demand for snacking vegetables and for greenhouse-grown organics.

On the snacking side, Pure Flavor’s Mini Munchies and Snack+ products are poised to help meet that surging demand, Veillon said.

Citing FMI’s 2021 Power of Produce report, Veillon pointed out that more than 3 in 10 shoppers believe they will purchase more value-added produce in the next year, and a third said that providing more fruit and vegetable snacking items is a good way retailers can help consumers increase fresh consumption.

Pure Flavor’s own research has found that 70% of consumers said they would be very likely to purchase a veggie snack pack, over 85% said convenience in a healthy snacking option was important to them, but less than half said it was easy to find those options at retail.

“We think that in 2022, retailers are going to bridge that gap and increase their convenient veggie snack offerings,” Veillon said.

On the organic side, meanwhile, 33% of Gen Z shoppers want their produce department to carry more organic and greenhouse grown produce, Veillon said. Demand for greenhouse grown organics is going to continue to grow, he added, as more consumers become educated on the environmental benefits of sustainable, protected agriculture.

“We’re supporting our retailers and encouraging them to get ahead of this trend early,” he said.

Pure Flavor’s latest additions to its organic lineup include roma tomatoes and its Luna Sweets Cocktail Tomatoes.

Since launching its Cloud 9 Tomatoes in 2021, Pure Flavor has seen demand for the new product steadily pick up, as more retailers add premium snacking tomatoes to their shelves.

Cloud 9 Tomatoes are perfect for consumers looking to fulfill their New Year health goals with a grab-and-go product that also checks the convenience box, Veillon said.

“With Cloud 9 Tomatoes, consumers are not just getting another red tomato,” Veillon said. “They’re getting a truly unique experience that’s been endorsed by professional chefs and experts in flavor.”

The variety has already won two prestigious awards that highlight not only its snacking but also its cooking versatility. The International Taste Institute gave Cloud 9 its 2021 Superior Taste Award, and ChefsBest awarded them its 2021 Excellence Award.

Everyday consumers have been similarly appreciative, Veillon said.

“They understand the value of a uniquely sweet and fruity snacking tomato that’s been carefully hand selected. Because of the care and attention we give to each Cloud 9 that we pick – each tomato is picked according to a very strict criteria to ensure the best quality possible – consumers know they are only getting the best of the best. Of course, this strict standard naturally limits supply, so we’ve increased our acreage dedicated to Cloud 9 to meet this incredible demand.”