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Village Farms continues to innovate

Doug Kling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Village Farms, headquartered in Heathrow, FL, said the biggest thing that the company is concerned with moving forward is continuing to innovate with exclusive varieties that deliver unique brand promise to the consumer.

“We continue to drive with something unique and exceptional flavor, shelf life and value to the consumer so at the end of the day, regardless of where you happen to sell it, it’s really all about the consumer — at least in our view,” he said. “We do everything we can to exceed consumers’ expectations.”

Lifestyle-Shot PicnicVillage Farms specialty tomatoes are perfect for on-the-go consumers and make for a healthy and sustainable snack wherever the day may take you.On the technical side, Village Farms strives to have the most advanced, sustainable technology in the greenhouse industry that drives cost down on increasing quality and enhancing quality for the consumer.

“We’ve seen continual growth in the authentic mini San Marzano tomatoes, and seeing a full launch at PMA of a cousin of the mini, that will be coming in the fall,” Kling said. “We continue to expand with some new partners, which will enhance our growing capabilities.”

The strategy behind this innovation is to expand the types of crops and varieties it grows.

“One of the things in this industry that is so unique in farming is that you have a set amount of space in the greenhouse and once you exceed it, you can’t run a third shift. If you expand your offerings to consumers, you have the make sure you have someplace to grow it,” Kling said. “It’s not to get bigger for big sake, it’s size for productivity sake and delivering on a product.”

Village Farms does over $150 million in annual sales and things continue to look good. The company recently did a joint venture with a medical cannabis group, although it’s a totally separate component of the company.

Not that there aren’t challenges. Kling said that 2017 has been very challenging for the tomato industry overall for the entire industry as it’s been plagued by lower prices and higher volumes, which has created an economic strain on a category that has flattened since consumption.

“Consumption hasn’t lowered but it’s changed. People are eating more snacking tomatoes, and grape tomatoes and specialties,” he said. “You see consumers shifting in patterns. People need to get more creative and innovative to get past it.”