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Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET®

Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET® Predicts the Future of Produce

Sasha Orman

Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET® sees a bright future in greenhouse technology
Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET® Predicts the Future of Produce

With four generations of family in the business, Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET® has a rich history. But when your business is fruit and vegetable production, you’re only as good as your latest crop. Understanding this, the Mastronardi family has grown its business to be sustainable, to stay ahead of its peers, and to seek out improvements with each passing generation. Currently led by the bright, young, and incredibly engaged President and CEO Paul Mastronardi, some would say that the company is just hitting its stride.


Improvements at Every Turn


Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET® doesn’t take its commitment to quality lightly – the company is SQF Level 3 Certified, and this year received the Food Quality Award from DuPont Qualicon. More than just feathers in Mastronardi’s cap, the recognitions are indicators of the company’s dedication to innovation in the name of quality and the pursuit of delighting the end consumer with flavor.   


“Every day we strive to be better, whether it’s in produce traceability, food safety or of course quality,” says Joe Sbrocchi, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET®. Not only has the company set the industry standard for traceability and food safety, but it is also blazing new trails in terms of sustainability. There are no better examples than its all-encompassing Green Grass Project and its EnviroFresh Farms, the latter of which utilizes waste steam and carbon dioxide from neighbouring plants to grow produce within Mastronardi’s facilities. “So it’s not only neutral,” says Sbrocchi, “it may well be the first carbon negative facility in North America.”


Flying (Off the Shelf) Tomatoes


Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET® isn’t just into improving its production methods: it is devoted to constantly improving the quality of its products themselves as well, bursting with pride over the taste and innovation of every new variety of fruit it debuts. Tomatoes are a specialty within the company, and it has brought many highly regarded varieties to retail shelves such as Campari, Splendido, One Sweet, Kumato, Zima and most recently Delano. Sbrocchi is most eager to talk about Zima, Mastronardi’s newest orange grape tomato for snacking. Small and seriously sweet, it’s a tomato meant not to be buried in salad dressing, but appreciated on its own merits – and it’s accomplishing that goal with flying colors.


“Zima has really done well for us,” says Sbrocchi. In fact, the tomato has defied expectations, selling far more than anticipated in its first year on the market. “This year, we’re just getting to the point where the supply and the demand are intersecting. But we continue to be sold out, and it’s selling incredibly well.”


Fresh Produce All Year Round


As proud as Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET® is of its produce, it’s only natural that its goal is to provide consumers with its products at every possible opportunity. “Our strategy is to supply all the things we offer 52 weeks of the year,” says Sbrocchi. Of course that’s a tall order – colder regions like Canada can be subject to extremes in terms of weather, and unexpected curveballs from nature can wreak havoc on crops even in warmer climates. It’s a fact that Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET® knows all too well, as Sbrocchi acknowledges that several of the company’s greenhouses were damaged by tornadoes in years past.


Indeed, successful farming year round requires a lot of planning. “You have to grow in multiple sites: you want to make sure that any one natural disaster of any kind won’t put you out of business,” Sbrocchi points out. Fortunately that is an issue that Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET® has covered: the company has production and packing facilities in Ontario, Michigan, Florida, and California, plus farms in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central America. By diversifying its geography, the company is able to effectively ensure that, at any given time, somewhere in the world there is a farm growing a successful crop of Mastronardi Produce products.


The Way of the Future


It’s only natural to believe that one’s own business is paving the way of the future – but in the case of Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET®, it’s more than just a hunch. As unpredictable weather leads to poor crops, the company sees a light at the end of the tunnel through growing methods that make outdoor conditions relatively irrelevant.


“We believe that protected agriculture – in other words, greenhouses – is the future for a number of reasons, not the least of which is what Mother Nature tends to throw at us in terms of extremes,” says Sbrocchi. “We have had some significant freezes, but because the majority of our product is under glass, we were able to pull through without any major disruption of our business. We are slowly convincing more retailers that this should be the production method of choice, and as they put the product out on their shelves the end consumer votes with their buying dollars.”


The Future of Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET®


Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET® may already preside over very large acreages of greenhouse Production across North and Central America, but there is still plenty of room for growth within the company both in terms of acreage and new products. In fact, Sbrocchi hints that many are already underway within the company’s research and development sector. “There are other things that we’re working on, other fruits or vegetables that we hope will one day see everyday production out of our greenhouse facilities,” he says. “So stay tuned!”

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