Dan Edmeier, vice president of sales and marketing for Kingdom Fresh Farms, says flavor and consistency are improved when products are grown in a protected environment.
What is driving sales in your product categories?
Dan Edmeier: As a commodity, Roma tomatoes are the engine driving the category. The proliferation of diabetes in our home state of Texas has begun to show a movement towards health consciousness.
We try to educate shoppers about the health benefits of our tomatoes through point-of-sale information and in-store sampling programs, as well as teaching retailers about our produce through food shows for regional retailers and other events.
What are the benefits of hothouse tomatoes versus field grown?
Protected agriculture in general, and greenhouse specifically, cost more but the benefits far outweigh that higher cost. First, yields are between 25% to 45% higher. Second, the flavor profiles and consistency are greatly improved when grown in a protected environment. Retailer feedback is that shelf life is also improved, and they see repeat business as a result.
How is packaging impacting sales?
Retailers and the growers seem to want the same thing when considering what to put in a package: Everything. The industry is still far away but it is not a stretch to imagine that every item merchandised as a commodity will one day be in a clamshell or bag. This is especially true if clamshell or bag packaging can extend shelf life and eliminate shrink.
How do you exhibit transparency in your product offerings?
Since tomatoes are still mainly sold as a bulk commodity the transparency comes in the form of third-party audits on water source, food safety and social responsibility among other things. Retailers require stringent documentation so they can have confidence in the transparency they present to their customers.