Photos courtesy of Globalmex International

High-tech greenhouse tomato grower Magic Sun recently announced they’re expanding into a bell pepper line. Produce Grower magazine spoke to sales manager Tony Otto with Globalmex International, the owners of the Magic Sun brand, to learn more about this expansion.

PG: Why move into the pepper space now?

Tony Otto: We have been continually growing our produce offerings and trying to deliver more value for our customers. Bell Pepper consumption last year showed solid growth, second only to salad kits in the produce department. This data and the input we receive from retail partners in account reviews helps guide our strategic planning process — which confirmed the decision to add a Bell Pepper product line. We’re already growing the high-tech greenhouse tomatoes, and the bell peppers seemed natural for us to complement that, in order to give our customers more of what they want. We are doing [the bell peppers] in three stages. The first stage just started and then we’ll have additional acreage come on into two different greenhouses with segregated space for the peppers this year. After this year, we’ll have 52 weeks supply.

PG: How does this expansion fit in with Magic Sun’s original vision of growing and distributing the freshest, healthiest, most flavorful tomatoes?

TO: This just seems like a natural point of growth for us. The items are similar, the buyers are similar, the transportation is similar and there’s demand for these bell peppers from our current customers. It’s just one extra thing that we can offer them to help create efficiencies in our shipping, create efficiencies in their order [and] add a little bit of extra variety to our offerings.

PG: What sets the Magic Sun brand bell peppers apart from other bell peppers on the market?

TO: There’s a lot of desire for retailers and distributors to be able to work directly with growers, and that’s one area where we’ve really excelled. We are a grower-owned company. Everything that we are selling, we are growing and harvesting and packing ourselves. One of the biggest advantages of what we’re doing is we make it very easy to work directly with the growers in Mexico.

PG: What is your focus going forward?

TO: We also just started doing blueberries this year. Between the blueberry expansion and the bell pepper expansion, we’re really trying to focus on taking care of what we have and making sure that we’re serving our current customers as well as we possibly can.

PG: How does this expansion feed back into the CEICKOR University program, where Magic Sun greenhouse employees in Mexico can receive agricultural education?

TO: The [CEICKOR] program continues to expand. We’re going to have students back in the university again here in a month. It’s a really excellent way for us to be able to grow opportunities in Mexico. CEICKOR University is creating not just jobs now, they’re creating careers. Careers in greenhouse agriculture, and that’s valuable. [Magic Sun and the program] feed off each other, too, because [we benefit from] the research that we get from CEICKOR University. It continues to grow our company, and we continue to be able to grow that aspect of giving back to the community.

Note: This interview has been edited for space and clarity.