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Meijer said it will now offer vine-ripened, Michigan-grown tomatoes year-round, even in the middle of winter, supplied by Mastronardi Produce's state-of-the-art hydroponic greenhouse in Coldwater, Mich.
"Meijer has a longstanding commitment to buying locally-grown produce when available as long as the quality meets our high standards," said Jerry Suter, VP of fresh for the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer. "… Meijer customers can purchase locally-grown tomatoes in the winter, which is well beyond Michigan's traditional tomato growing season."
Michigan tomatoes typically grow from late July to October, but the technology at the Coldwater greenhouse allows for fresh fruit regardless of outdoor conditions due to its unique grow lights, water filtration systems and alternative energy sources. The Markets of Meijer tomatoes on the vine grown in the Coldwater greenhouse feature a sticker on the bag that states "Grown in Michigan."
"Meijer is one of our oldest customers in the USA and has been a great partner for over 40 years,” said Mastronardi Produce president Paul Mastronardi. “We have collaborated on many new items and projects like this. We talked a few years back about our idea of the Coldwater greenhouse project and Meijer was on board before we built."
Meijer works with more than 100 local growers and businesses – up 25 percent over the past five years – within its five-state footprint, representing an economic impact of more than $80 million annually. By purchasing local, Meijer is able to cut fuel consumption which is good for the environment, helps reduce transportation costs and keeps fresh produce prices down for customers.
Meijer operates 199 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.