How Mastronardi Produce Became Pioneers of High-Tech Vegetable Growing (2023)

How Mastronardi Produce Became Pioneers of High-Tech Vegetable Growing (1) By Janeen Wright|June 4, 2020

How Mastronardi Produce Became Pioneers of High-Tech Vegetable Growing (2)

From its first branded Campari tomato in 1995 to Aloha striped peppers in 2017 and the expansion of WOW berries in 2019, Mastronardi has introduced world-class branded products that deliver high quality and bold flavor to consumers. Photos: Mastronardi Produce

Mastronardi Produce is one of the true pioneers in the greenhouse produce industry. Since building the first commercial greenhouse in North America in the 1940s, the company has continued as an innovator and leader in the greenhouse industry for more than 70 years, with four generations leading the charge over time. With a formative vision to provide fresh, premium greenhouse vegetables year-round, the company has become a world-class producer focused on quality and unbeatable flavor.


Mastronardi Starts Super-Greenhouse Trend

Paul Mastronardi, President and CEO and the fourth-generation family member to lead Mastronardi Produce, has carried on the family legacy of demonstrated leadership in sustainability and greenhouse innovation. His great grandfather, Armando Mastronardi, immigrated to North America in the 1920s and purchased his own farm in Leamington, Ontario. In the 1940s, Paul’s grandfather, Umberto Mastronardi, traveled to Holland and brought the knowledge of greenhouse technology back with him, where he then built the first commercial greenhouse in North America.

Umberto was a visionary and innovator, pioneering the movement of introducing European product to the North American market and providing consumers with fresh produce year-round. In fact, he brought back the English cucumber seed from Holland upon his visit in the 1940s. In 1954, Mastronardi Produce was established and began growing greenhouse produce exclusively.

Paul’s father, Don Mastronardi, took over the business at 25 after the unexpected passing of his father, Umberto. The company had recently acquired Detroit-based Harry Becker Produce Co., which allowed them to rapidly expand their business into the U.S. market. Don spent long hours on both sides of the border, leading sales and customer service at Harry Becker from the early morning hours until noon and then returning to Leamington to work the greenhouse operation.

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Paul Mastronardi grew up in the industry and has worked in every aspect of the business, starting with building boxes at the age of 10. He went to school for physics but decided to return to the greenhouse business when he realized he didn’t want to solve math problems his whole life.

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When Paul was growing up, Leamington was a mecca of 5- to 10-acre greenhouse operations. Don Mastronardi built the first, 50-acre, super-greenhouse operation in 1994. At the time, it was the largest greenhouse and the first of its kind in North America. Paul says he remembers how concerned the Leamington greenhouse community was about the inherent risk of a larger operation. Instead, it accelerated growth, and 20-acre expansions soon became the norm.

Hooking the Consumer on Flavor

As Paul shadowed his father and learned the business, the overall message he heard from customers was that people wanted fruits with more flavor, even though the industry was chasing larger size and shelf life. He traveled to Holland to see what varieties seed companies offered and ended up bringing back a flavorful, golf-ball-sized tomato. The tomato was so different from what consumers were used to that he realized branding was needed to help it stand out. He launched the company’s first branded tomato — Campari — in 1995, and it worked. Campari is now one of the top selling cocktail tomatoes in the U.S. Other products marketed under the company’s SUNSET brand, including Splendido, the first greenhouse-grown grape tomato, Angel Sweet, and Flavor Bombs tomatoes, soon followed.

“I have learned that once a consumer is hooked on flavor, you’re guaranteed repeat sales,” Mastronardi says. “We take pride in consistently producing flavorful tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and berries.”

Mastronardi Produce continues to grow and has more than 5,000 acres of controlled-environment productive growing capacity spread across Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. The company owns seven greenhouses and six distribution centers, and directly employs more than 3,000 people, while working with hundreds of grower partners. It has expanded its product offerings to include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, lettuce, and berries.

The company is currently building the largest single-build, high-tech greenhouse in North America, located in Oneida, NY, where it will grow strawberries, tomatoes, and cucumbers. The 70-acre facility will be fully operational by May, with available growing space totaling 64 acres. It will have the latest technology, including revolutionary automation equipment in the harvesting and functional support areas. The Oneida site is big enough that the facility could conceivably double in size as the company continues to grow.

Sustainability and Traceability Efforts Ahead of Their Time

Despite continued growth, Mastronardi Produce hasn’t lost sight of its commitment to sustainability. The hanging-gutter system installed in its greenhouses allows it to capture leach off the plants and recycle 99% of unused water and fertilizer instead of discharging it into the water table. The greenhouses collect rainwater in giant basins, UV treat it, and reuse it over and over again, and the plants are fed water through a drip irrigation system, ensuring they get the exact amount of water they need. These sustainable practices result in significantly lower water usage — up to 10 times less than field farms.

On the packaging side, the company started efforts to reduce plastic use well before it was a focus for retailers and consumers. It introduced Top Seal technology more than 10 years ago, an innovation that allowed it to reduce its clamshell plastic by 20% to 25%. Soon, Mastronardi Produce will introduce starch-based material to the market and fully backyard compostable packaging that doesn’t need industrial heat or excessive moisture for the breakdown.

Mastronardi was also one of the first produce companies to initiate product traceability back to the farm. Its strong traceability program was featured on CNN in 2008. The traceability program requires all products packed under the SUNSET label to contain product origin information, as well as a farm code, to trace back to the greenhouse of its origin. The company also runs an onsite laboratory to conduct daily safety tests on its produce.

How Mastronardi Produce Became Pioneers of High-Tech Vegetable Growing (8)

Much like it did with the tomato category, Mastronardi Produce plans to revolutionize the berry industry by offering more unique and flavorful greenhouse-grown choices to consumers.

Mastronardi Produces High-Tech Berries Under Cover

With the pesticide issues that landed strawberries on the Dirty Dozen list, inconsistencies in quality and supply, labor shortages, and trucking issues, bringing berry production into the protected agriculture space seemed like a logical move. In 2003, Paul pioneered high-tech berry growing, and after a seven-year learning curve, he officially launched premium, greenhouse strawberries that are virtually pesticide-free.

More recently, Paul started working with the international company BerryWorld to further bring berries into the protected ag space. The resulting partnership between Mastronardi Produce and BerryWorld was the perfect marriage, with BerryWorld providing the genetics and breeding expertise and Mastronardi Produce supplying the greenhouse facilities and the North American distribution network. Together, they are revolutionizing the berry category, much in the same way Mastronardi Produce did with tomatoes.

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“When the first greenhouse tomato came out, everyone said no one would pay for it because it was twice as expensive as anything produced in the field,” Paul says. “Over the last 70 years, we increased production, improved flavor, and brought the product to a price point affordable for consumers. I believe that experience will help us get to the point where the masses see the value of a greenhouse berry over a field berry even faster within the berry category.”

New Project Brings Fresh, Locally Grown Produce to the Middle East

Finding and implementing innovative technology has long been part of Mastronardi Produce’s growth strategy. It trials everything from crop robots in their infancy to artificial intelligence (AI) technology in its greenhouses. One tech project the company is currently involved with is its Green International Ventures LLC (GIVE) partnership with John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems and Patrón Spirits. The project will make locally grown, fresh produce more widely available around the globe using a proprietary Advanced High-Density Farming System, which incorporates a multitude of cutting-edge growing systems such as water-saving irrigation and energy-efficient lighting, advanced automation and robotic devices, AI processes for predictive analysis, and real-time crop and soil monitoring.

“People fail to realize that with certain crops, greenhouses are one of the most sustainable, high-tech vertical farms available,” Paul says. “A greenhouse is not just measured in area per square feet, it’s also measured in cubic feet. A lot of these vertical farm companies are trying to rethink something that is already working.”

What It Takes to Bring the First Striped Pepper to Market

Mastronardi Produce’s striped Aloha peppers have a super sweet taste and keep their stripes, even when cooked. The variety is 100% nature-created, but the company had to go to some extraordinary efforts to bring it to market.

President and CEO Paul Mastronardi says after a harvester showed them a pepper that was half red and half yellow, they searched the greenhouse for the plant it came from but couldn’t find anything. Two years went by and another harvester brought a striped pepper to them. An exhaustive search of plants in the greenhouse again turned up nothing.

Finally, Paul consulted some European breeders who determined the rare occurrence happened only on one node of the plant, so Paul hired scouts who spent the next two years running up and down the greenhouse before harvesting to see if they could spot one of the unusual peppers while it was still on the plant. They eventually discovered the elusive node, and that was the start of Aloha peppers. The peppers have been on the market for about two years with limited supplies available while Mastronardi works to build up availability.

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Janeen Wright is Editor for Greenhouse Grower. You can email her at [emailprotected]. See all author stories here.


What is the history of Mastronardi Produce? ›

In 1954, Mastronardi Produce was established and began growing greenhouse produce exclusively. Paul's father, Don Mastronardi, took over the business at 25 after the unexpected passing of his father, Umberto.

Who is Paul Mastronardi? ›

About Mastronardi Produce Ltd.

Paul Mastronardi, President & CEO of Mastronardi Produce Ltd. (CNW Group/Mastronardi Produce Ltd.)

Who owns Mastronardi Produce? ›

The company is a fourth-generation family-owned business and embraces an employee-driven culture. “We dedicate this achievement to our employees who truly drive our success as a company,” said Paul Mastronardi, President and CEO of Mastronardi Produce.

How much is Mastronardi worth? ›

The Mastronardi Produce Ltd. annual revenue was $1.48 billion in 2021.

Who are Mastronardi produce competitors? ›

Mastronardi Produce's competitors and similar companies include Liv Up, Pilgrim's, AgroUrbana and Clean Crop Technologies.

Who started growing tomatoes? ›

The Mayans and other Mesoamerican people domesticated the tomato plant and first used it in cooking. A mutation was likely responsible for converting the small two-chambered wild types into the larger, lumpy, multi-chambered fruit that represents the vast majority of today's tomatoes.

How many acres does Mastronardi Produce have? ›

an immense 60-acre lit greenhouse has been built, catapulting production of SUNSET tomato varieties like the brand's flagship Campari tomato.

What is the annual revenue of Mastronardi produce? ›

What is Mastronardi Produce USA Inc's Revenue? Mastronardi Produce USA Inc revenue is $190.0M annually.

Who owns SUNSET tomatoes? ›

A pioneer and industry leader in the gourmet greenhouse industry, Mastronardi Produce grows and markets nationally recognized products under the SUNSET® brand, including Campari®, Flavor Bombs®, and Angel Sweet® tomatoes.

Where is Mastronardi from? ›

Kingsville, Ontario-based Mastronardi Produce has added more North American acreage in one year than ever before in the company's 70-year history.

Who owns North Bay produce? ›

History. The company began as Wilderness Fresh Produce, a division of parent company Cherry Central Cooperative, Inc., in 1984 to market fresh Michigan apples, asparagus and prune plums for some of its members.

Who owns Fresh Produce Group? ›

When Robert Nugan established Fresh Produce Group in 1991 he committed to sourcing, growing and distributing the freshest quality produce. Recognised as one of Australia's largest and most innovative produce suppliers we continue to grow our investment in Australian farms.

Who are Sunset Produce competitors? ›

Sunset Produce top competitors include: Pure Flavor, Red Sun Farms, Oppy, NatureFresh™ Farms What companies has Sunset Produce acquired? Sunset Produce has acquired the companies: Berall Sunset J, Backyard Farms What technology does Sunset Produce use?

What is the largest produce company in the world? ›

Dole Food Company can pat itself on the back: It is the world's largest producer of fruit and vegetables. In 2009, the company saw revenues of approximately $6.8 billion, which is a far cry from its modest beginnings in Hawaii back in 1851.

Who are Mainfreights competitors? ›'s top 5 competitors in January 2023 are:,,,, and more.

Who are Tapestry's competitors? ›

Tapestry's primary competitors are LVMH, Kering & Burberry.

Who is the largest tomato grower in the US? ›

Lipman is America's largest field tomato grower focused on providing a dependable and sustainable tomato supply chain. Bowles plays a key role to support the west coast by providing fresh and nutritious tomatoes while ensuring sustainable practices.

Who is the largest tomato grower in the world? ›

China is the world's largest tomato producer with 64.768 million mT, i.e. 34.67% of the world's total production.

Who brought tomatoes to China? ›

Eventually, the Spanish introduced the tomato to their holdings in the Philippines, and from there it spread throughout Southeast Asia and Asia.

How many acres is AppHarvest greenhouse? ›

And while it's one thing to say the Morehead, Kentucky-based company operates a 60-acre (2.76 million square feet) greenhouse powered by tech and a deep sense of purpose, it's another thing to actually stand inside the facility and see the future of agriculture changing before one's very eyes.

How many acres is AppHarvest? ›

AppHarvest currently operates its 60-acre flagship farm in Morehead, Ky., producing tomatoes, a 15-acre indoor farm for salad greens in Berea, Ky., a 30-acre farm for strawberries and cucumbers in Somerset, Ky., and a 60-acre farm in Richmond, Ky., for tomatoes. The four-farm network consists of 165 acres under glass.

How many acres is Afarm? ›

According to the USDA, the average size of a farm is 444 acres. A homestead tends to be quite a bit smaller since it usually only needs to produce enough to support a family.

Who sells the most tomatoes in the world? ›

This is a list of countries by tomato production in 2016 and 2017, based on data from the Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database.
>1,000,000 tonnes.
19 more columns

Who bought tomatoes to Europe? ›

Europeans first came into contact with the domesticated tomato in Mesoamerica where it was an integral part of the Nahua diet and culture. The Spanish conquistadores introduced the tomato to Europe after the capture of the city of Tenochtitlan by Hernán Cortés in 1521.

Does Sunset Produce use pesticides? ›

No chemical pesticides here. Just your average hard-working ladybugs help ensure our produce is protected from unwanted pests.

What is Mastronardi mission statement? ›

Vision & Mission

Our employees are guided by our PRIDE values: Passion, Respect, Innovation, Drive, Excellence Our mission is to inspire healthy living by consistently delivering WOW flavor experiences.

Is North Bay Produce organic? ›

Our organic offerings include organic blueberries, organic blackberries, organic raspberries, organic strawberries, organic asparagus, and organic French beans,” said Ryan Lockman, vice president of sales for North Bay Produce, headquartered in Traverse City, MI.

Who owns nationwide produce? ›

Nationwide Produce was established as Bernard O'Malley & Sons back in 1975. Bernard and his three sons are all Directors and actively involved in the running of the company. Our family values ensure our people sit at the core of our business.

Who owns Philadelphia produce market? ›

The company was established in 1906, and is the oldest family-owned produce wholesaler at the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market. Levin is one of the largest ripeners and banana foodservice distributors in the Mid-Atlantic region, ripening over 30,000 boxes weekly.
TypePrivately held company
5 more rows

Who owns McEntire produce? ›

Carter McEntire - Senior Vice President and Owner - McEntire Produce, Inc.

Who owns Berry Fresh? ›

Tim's son, Mitch Timoteo is now CEO along with his son Michael Timoteo is now carrying on the family passion for excellence in the hospitality business for years to come.

Who owns fresh edge produce? ›

Chicago, Ill., October 4, 2022 – Wind Point Partners (“Wind Point”), a Chicago-based private equity firm, has acquired FreshEdge (“FreshEdge” or the “Company”), a leading distributor of fresh foods.

Who owns Sunset Farms? ›

Thomas Carroll - President & Owner - Sunset Farm Foods | LinkedIn.

Who owns Sunset organics? ›

Andrea Kurtz - Business Owner - Sunset Organics Inc.

Who are REA Group competitors? ›

REA Group's primary competitors are Domain, PropertyGuru & Stockland.

What is the revenue of Mastronardi Produce Ltd? ›

Mastronardi Produce's revenue is $27.1 Million What is Mastronardi Produce's SIC code? Mastronardi Produce's SIC: 54,541 What is Mastronardi Produce's NAICS code?

Who owns Sunset tomatoes? ›

A pioneer and industry leader in the gourmet greenhouse industry, Mastronardi Produce grows and markets nationally recognized products under the SUNSET® brand, including Campari®, Flavor Bombs®, and Angel Sweet® tomatoes.

What is Sunset Produce annual revenue? ›

Frequently Asked Questions regarding Sunset Produce

Sunset Produce's phone number is (517) 278-0322 What is Sunset Produce's official website? Sunset Produce's official website is What is Sunset Produce's Revenue? Sunset Produce's revenue is $637.5 Million What is Sunset Produce's SIC code?

What is the biggest produce company? ›

Dole, Total Produce To Merge Into World's Largest Produce Company | Food Processing.


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