OPN Connect Newsletter 326 · June 29, 2023

Summer Organic Tomato Promotions Should Soon Be Available

California’s summer organic tomato crop (including a nice assortment of organic heirlooms) is ramping up, and combined with continued organic tomato production from Mexico, retail promotional opportunities should be available from late August on.

Brian Everett of Organic Harvest Network in San Francisco revealed that he will have a great lineup of organic tomatoes—including mixed cherry offerings, multiple varieties of heirlooms, grape tomatoes, romas, and beefsteaks—from July through the summer and well into October.

Cal Organic May 2024

Brian Everett, Director of Sales, Organic Harvest Network

“We’re just getting started,” he said earlier this week. “We are packing mixed cherries today.”

Everett sources his summer batch of organic tomatoes from Durst Farms, located in the Northern California town of Esparto. “We sell them nationwide,” he said. “We’d like to keep them close to home, but we go to the Northwest, the Midwest, Texas. ... It's the summer, and everyone wants our great-tasting California organic tomatoes.”

Earthbound Farms May 2024

Durst Farms organic cherry tomato pints

Durst Farms produces eight different varieties of cherry tomatoes and nine different heirloom varieties. The longtime organic farmer has many different colors of cherries, from golden sun to black varieties. The organic heirlooms also offer a mix of varieties and colors, including red, yellow, striped, and green. “The green isn’t picked green, it ripens to a great green color,” Everett reported.

“It’s the summer, and everyone wants our great-tasting California organic tomatoes.” - Brian Everett

Organic tomato production will be rocking and rolling by mid-to-late July with promotable volume throughout August and September. “When we are in peak production, each worker will be picking five times more boxes than they will be picking the first couple of weeks,” he said.

Driscolls May 2024

Everett is expecting a very good marketing situation as he said these organic tomatoes typically are in great demand. “There is a lot of pent-up demand for great-tasting tomatoes.” he said, noting that the consumer of organic tomatoes of every variety is typically willing to pay the price. He did reiterate that Organic Harvest Network will have ample supplies for promotional opportunities, even for new customers.

Capay Organic heirloom tomatoes

Ashley Berlinger, product development manager for Creekside Organics in Bakersfield, California, gave an equally upbeat report on the company’s summer organic tomato program, which will begin by the third week in July. “With the cooler weather in California, the season has been delayed slightly and Mexico is finishing up, so demand seems strong, and customers seem excited for California to start up,” she said. “We will have strong supply and promotable volumes by August. We will run through the end of October.”

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The company will be selling and marketing its Capay and Creekside field-grown California heirloom tomatoes exclusively during that time frame. The program includes close to 10 heirloom varieties representing a full palette of colors. The firm promotes being able to color stage for their customers and offer a one-pound clamshell or a 10-pound flat.

“With the cooler weather in California, the season has been delayed slightly and Mexico is finishing up, so demand seems strong, and customers seem excited for California to start up.” - Ashley Berlinger

Creekside Organics President, Brenda Haught, added that the late rains and a cooler spring have definitely delayed normal start dates for the tomato industry and early season volumes. “However, our growers in the Capay Valley and Hollister area were able to plant on time, and we are starting just a week to 10 days behind normal years,” she said. “We are confident the harvest window will extend into later October and that we will be able to service our customers with delicious field-grown California organic heirloom tomatoes into summer and early fall.”

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Brenda Haught, President, Creekside Organics

Reporting on its summer organic grape tomato deal in Mexico, Divine Flavor Public Relations Manager Michael DuPuis said the grower-shipper-packer-exporter was in the process of transitioning from its organic production in West Mexico to its operation in Baja California near Ensenada. It will also be sourcing from its production area in the Central Mexico state of Jalisco during the summer.

Michael DuPuis, Public Relations Manager, Divine Flavor

“We have three different growing regions in Mexico, all operated by our sister company Viva Organics,” he said. “That allows us to offer our customers a year-round organic program.”

DuPuis said Ensenada’s production began during the last week of June and will continue to ramp up throughout July. The company’s marketing strategy is to gauge its customers’ demand on the front end and plant accordingly. But he added that this year’s summer crop is looking excellent with very good volume.

Divine Flavor organic grape tomatoes

“As we get deeper into the summer—in late July and throughout at least August—there will be promotable volume and opportunities for spot market buys,” he said. “Volume is looking very strong in August.”

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