Peppe Bonfiglio of Mastronardi Produce® Shares Insights on 2021 Expansion, Future Plans, and More
KINGSVILLE, CANADA - It’s hard to believe that 2021 is nearly in our rearview mirror. Over the course of a single year, companies have taken on the mantle of expansion and soared to new heights. One such company is Mastronardi Produce®, which has taken its current westward expansion to tap into new markets, expand product lines, and gain momentum for next year’s strategic growth.
I sat down with Peppe Bonfiglio, the greenhouse grower’s Vice President of Sales, for an exclusive Q&A.
Anne Allen: As Mastronardi Produce continues to ramp up its westward expansion, what were some of the pivotal moves made in 2021 to make this happen?
Peppe Bonfiglio: We are no stranger to creating growth and opportunity—and when we see opportunity, we go after it. We’ve had our eye on the western region for a while and this year we have expanded to bring fresh SUNSET® flavor there. One of our biggest moves was continuing to expand in the area and delivering premium greenhouse-grown produce to a market that had only seen a small presence from us previously.
The momentum started as soon as we opened our western distribution centers. First, in the U.S., in Castroville, California, where we opened a 70,000-square-foot facility strategically located for customers to get fresh, greenhouse-grown produce to the western region of the U.S. and Canada with shorter transit times. As the momentum kept going, we quickly responded by opening another distribution center—this time, on the Canadian side—a 70,000-square-foot facility located in Surrey, British Columbia, that features the same state-of-the-art operating systems and food safety protocols as our other North American distribution centers for inventory tracking, customer fulfillment, receiving, shipping, and tracing of produce from farms to consumer.
From there, we opened a new southwestern omnichannel distribution center, which is a 187,000-square-foot facility in Laredo, Texas, near our current distribution center. Customized to the company’s needs, this facility was designed to efficiently provide pick and pack operations in support of the ever-increasing demand for SUNSET-branded fruits and vegetables from leading retailers and foodservice operators in the region.
The location of these three distribution centers positions us well to distribute into the western region of the United States and Canada, as well as export into other markets beyond North America. These distribution centers are also served by an expanded network of growers in the Western region.
AA: Speaking of westward expansion, what markets are you most excited to tap in the future?
PB: We will continue the momentum in the western part of Canada and the U.S., now and in the future. In addition to that, we recently partnered with Rhode Island Grows, a family-owned farming operation spanning three states, on the construction of a 25-acre greenhouse in Exeter, Rhode Island. This move is designed to bring more high-flavor fresh fruits and vegetables to the Northeastern region of the U.S.
AA: From Lolli Bombs™ to Wild Wonders®, Mastronardi Produce keeps launching new products to keep the interest of buyers and the end consumer piqued. How do you maintain this level of category innovation?
PB: By never settling! We’re always in search of the next best thing in quality and flavor, and we don’t stop until we get there. We put innovation at the forefront of everything we do, and we pride ourselves on being leaders in the sustainable production of quality, flavorful produce.
How do we maintain this level of category innovation? It all starts with the seed. We work with the best seed companies in the world to have access to exclusive varieties and world-leading expertise in sustainable greenhouse growing. From there, we trial varieties for 3–4 years before we determine they’re good enough to be commercialized under our brand. Our customers have come to love and expect the best from us, and we’re constantly innovating, bringing unique flavors (and branding to match!), so that we remain ahead and exceed the industry’s expectations.
AA: How will this momentum surrounding expansion continue to propel Mastronardi Produce in 2022?
PB: We will continue focusing on expansion in all areas of the market—not just in the West. We’ve seen it already with our partnership in Rhode Island, and we have plans of further expansion across the U.S. and Canada in 2022. We care about the local production of quality, nutrient-dense produce, and we believe that everyone should have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
As an innovator and leader in the greenhouse vegetable industry, we will also continue investing heavily in research and development. After all, several of our proprietary game-changing varieties, including Campari®, the world’s first branded tomato, and the Bombs lineup of snacking tomatoes are a result of the incredible time and dedication we’ve put into finding and growing the best-tasting fruits and vegetables on the planet.
Charting the growth of Mastronardi Produce is one such pleasure we garner here at AndNowUKnow. Be on the lookout for the latest as we continue to track what the greenhouse grower will do next.