Greenhouse—we’ve watched it take root in fresh produce, grow rapidly as a sector, and even set new industry standards, influencing all areas of the food chain from growing practices and retail shelves to consumer kitchens.
Fluttering across the big, blue sky that is the greenhouse category is one determined butterfly.
Its name is Red Sun Farms®.
“Our high-tech greenhouses deliver exceptional flavor, quality, and innovation, providing 646 acres of year-round supply in the tomato, pepper, and cucumber categories. There are many benefits to greenhouse-grown produce, including sustainable practices, food safety, and consistency in the products,” says Senior Director of Sales Harold Paivarinta, painting me a clear picture of this airborne category.
Fitting of its forward-looking vision for greenhouse innovation, Red Sun launched a brand-new logo earlier this year. The central focus? A vibrantly colored butterfly.
Not only does it reaffirm the brand’s commitment to continued metamorphosis, but it symbolizes a deep connection to, and understanding of, the Earth. The new logo, in other words, is a physical representation of the greenhouse industry—and Red Sun has given it flight.
“We’ve updated our logo with a modern refresh that reflects growth and innovation to reinforce a positive and progressive identity,” Harold adds. “The team has already begun the process of rolling out the new packaging and is receiving positive retailer feedback. The logo offers clarity and transparency, which are two essential purchase drivers for present-day consumers.”
Elevated by these packaging qualities that Harold speaks of, a focus on sustainability becomes the natural progression for retail shelves. Red Sun has that flight pattern memorized, utilizing sustainable practices in water recycling, yield optimization, and minimizing food waste.
“Red Sun Farms is a proud industry leader in sustainable agriculture, closely working with packaging suppliers to develop new and sustainable options,” Harold continues. “Over the last six to seven years, the team has also challenged our packaging suppliers to push sustainable technology, helping to commercialize recyclable flow wraps, increase recycled content in clamshells, fiber punnets, compostable PLUs, and labels with washable adhesives.”
There is still much more opportunity for sustainable improvements through technology, Harold assures me, and Red Sun is continuously working to bring new solutions to the market.
One such advancement has been made through light technology, which the grower began implementing at its greenhouses in the latter half of 2020 as it pushed for year-round Canadian supply.
“We will begin planning for the second season of our winter pepper crop with this one-of-a-kind LED technology,” Harold explains. “This unique, innovative growing method recreates and modulates the full spectrum of the sun’s natural light, essentially enabling the farm to eliminate seasonality for these crops.”
“...we have come to believe that providing fresh and nutritious produce year-round is critical in building healthy communities.”
Harold Paivarinta, Senior Director of Sales, Red Sun Farms®
Red Sun originally turned to this ingenuity to meet continuous demands for access to local produce year-round, and the need became even greater as pandemic-related challenges persisted.
“In the past year, as food insecurity has become a more common reality for families in North America, we have come to believe that providing fresh and nutritious produce year-round is critical in building healthy communities. Ensuring that our supply is not interrupted makes certain that we can do our part in providing nutritious options to retailers and consumers,” Harold shares.
On top of consistency and quality, flavor is a chief contributor to the greenhouse category.
“Retailers and foodservice operators strive to exceed their customers’ expectations,” Harold asserts. “They know that consumers have many choices in-store, online, and in restaurants, and greenhouse programs ensure they will hit those deliverables each visit in order to maintain shopper loyalty.”
Harold states that demand for greenhouse-grown produce continues to rise year over year, with a focus on specialties, snacking, and organics. Consumers are seeking nutritious options that don’t compromise on flavor and quality, and Red Sun has several options at the ready.
Its Sweets Family brand, for example, quickly made a name for itself on the shelf, with Sweetpops effectively redefining Red Sun’s snacking tomato standards.
“This variety is all about delivering an explosion of flavor in a snack-sized product. It has already established a dedicated following of consumers who have connected with the brand, creating new expectations for sweetness in tomatoes,” Harold says. “The packaging on this new variety was designed with the millennial generation in mind, making an exploration of this tomato a complete experience.”
This experience, in my eyes, is a journey akin to the migration of a butterfly. It may look different to everyone, but where that journey begins and ends is always the same: from the seed to the plate.
With this carefully curated process serving as the company’s value proposition, Red Sun takes ownership of every step in the supply chain, from hand-selecting its seeds, implementing propagation at its farms, overseeing greenhouse operations, as well as harvesting, packing, and distributing. This vertically integrated Seed to Plate business model meets the demand for quality, safety, flavor, and year-round supply.
“The master growers at Red Sun Farms have hand-selected varieties of organic tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers that will delight and exceed customers’ flavor expectations,” Harold expresses. “Our vertically integrated operations have helped us realize our vision of owning farms in Mexico, the United States, and Canada, with supporting distribution centers throughout these regions.”
Earlier in 2021, Red Sun revealed growth across its Mexico and Ontario greenhouse operations. As this new acreage completes its first season, Harold teases that the team is assessing further needs to grow crops to meet new customer demands.
Red Sun Farms is working on expansions in Pharr, Texas; Dublin, Virginia; and Kingsville, Ontario, to support growth plans that will take the company to a total of 788 acres in 2022. This includes 223 acres (52 lit) in Ontario, 537 acres in Mexico, and 28 acres (10 lit) in the United States.
Expansions like these will play a critical role in Red Sun maintaining its position as a category leader. Because, as Harold reiterates, greenhouse isn’t going anywhere.
“The role of high-tech greenhouses will become even more important in the coming years due to their sustainable practices, the growing demand for fresh produce year-round, and the desire for that produce to be locally sourced,” Harold concludes.
It appears as though Red Sun is well-poised to hold its weight, laying claim to all of the innovative characteristics that make greenhouse a category not to be overlooked.
And to think…it is all carried on the wings of a butterfly.