Bert Mucci, Joe Spano, and Ajit Saxena of Mucci Farms Talk Expansion
- by Geneva Hutcheson
KINGSVILLE, ONTARIO - With spring approaching, who could resist fresh strawberries, or a salad packed with crisp lettuce? Continuing the company’s expansion, Mucci Farms will be increasing its strawberry and lettuce offerings to meet increased demand and to better tailor programs to consumers’ interests.
I spoke with members of the Mucci Farms team about the forces propelling the expansion and what the evolution will entail.
“Mucci Farms has identified a need and an opportunity in the marketplace to offer consumers some of the cleanest strawberries grown in the cleanest environment, free of pesticides,” said Joe Spano, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Due to the control we have over the growing conditions, we also are able to offer some of the most consistent and flavorful strawberries to the market. With the majority of strawberries being brought in from California, we also saw a need in the marketplace to offer a product with significantly less travel miles—as strawberries are extremely delicate. Reduced travel miles also increase shelf life and quality of the berries.”
To meet this demand, Mucci Farms is working on a 36-acre expansion, currently in progress, which now stands at 24 acres. Mucci Farms plans to complete the last 12 acres of the expansion this summer. The final dozen acres will include grow lights, allowing the company to offer high quality local berries year-round. Even in winter!
“First harvest for what will be the largest strawberry farms under glass in North America will take place in October of this year,” said Bert Mucci, CEO of Mucci Farms.
In addition to the increased strawberry offerings, Mucci Farms will also expand offerings for Naked Leaf™ Living Lettuce to meet the increased demand for pesticide-free products. Living Lettuce stays fresh longer than standard lettuce (with a shelf life of up to 14 days) due to intact roots.
“We are currently harvesting 30,000 heads of lettuce per week out of a roughly two-acre facility and will be expanding to six acres, allowing for 200-250,000 heads per week. The six-acre expansion will be completed this fall,” said Bert. “We have state of the art proprietary automation and robotics allowing for maximum production and yield. New offerings will include a lineup of Naked Leaf Salad Kits in the future.”
Along with the strawberry and lettuce expansion, Mucci Farms has undertaken a 60-acre expansion in Huron, Ohio, which will be the company’s first U.S. expansion. Mucci Farms has completed the first 24-acres of the expansion and intends to complete the last 36-acres by 2020.
“The first 24 acres will be mainly comprised of Tomatoes on the Vine, with additional production of Roma and specialty tomatoes,” Bert explained. “We will determine what we’ll be growing in the remaining 36 acres once we have a better idea of market demands after the first phase gets going.”
As if all of this wasn’t enough, Mucci Farms is also playing off of SEPC’s upcoming “Produce is King Theme” with a greenhouse spin.
“We have decided once again to have fun with the SEPC and how could we not with a theme like ‘Produce is King.’ With the theme alluding to Elvis in 2018, we chose to refresh ‘Jailhouse Rock’ by naming our theme ‘Greenhouse Rock,’” said Ajit Saxena, Digital Marketing Coordinator for Mucci Farms.
Mucci has designed a booth with vinyl records, an old school microphone, and artwork—out of which it will play its rewritten and originally recorded ‘Greenhouse Rock’ song, highlighting its products and presence at SEPC.
Visit Mucci Farms at SEPC booth #448 and to keep up-to-date on industry expansions, stay with us at AndNowUKnow.