(Feb. 20) IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Green Giant Fresh has changed its supplier of tomatoes and hothouse peppers.

Immokalee-based Custom Pak has become the exclusive national supplier of tomatoes and hothouse peppers for the Green Giant Fresh produce label.

The Sholl Group II, Minneapolis, owns the licensing rights to the national brand. The two inked the deal in January.

Green Giant Fresh and DiMare Fresh Inc., Dallas, its previous tomato supplier, mutually agreed to dissolve a three-year agreement, officials for both companies said.

Tony DiMare, vice president of DiMare Ruskin Inc., Ruskin, said DiMare isn’t immediately considering packing its tomatoes under another national brand. He said DiMare continued the Green Giant Fresh brand when DiMare bought the assets of Dallas-based Fresh America Corp. in 2001.

Larry Narwold, Sholl’s Jonesboro, Ga.-based vice president of sales, said he was impressed by the enthusiasm of Custom Pak’s sales staff.

“Their present customer base and their multiple locations of packing and distribution will get us into markets we haven’t been able to do before. The relationships they have with retailers, club stores and foodservice customers will be very beneficial for both sides,” he said.

Custom Pak, a division of the tomato, pepper and cucumber grower-shipper Six L’s Packing Co. Inc., operates separately as a wholesaler-distributor of value-added items.

“Green Giant was looking for us to bring a hothouse pepper and a full tomato program to the plate on a national level,” said Steve Condit, Custom Pak’s national sales manager for the Green Giant Fresh program. “With our growing operations and repack divisions throughout the Eastern Seaboard and affiliations around the country, we will have a good position to supply them their demands for this national program.”

The deal, which will include vine-ripes, tomatoes on the vine, romas, hothouse, beefsteak, grapes, cocktails, cherries and round tomatoes, may expand to other items, Condit said.

Custom Pak plans to start shipping full volume of product by March 1. It was printing marketing materials and arranging customer meetings in mid-February, Condit said.

Green Giant Fresh and Custom Pak declined to state volume they plan to ship.

“We have to be strategic on what we do with this label,” said Jaime Weisinger, Custom Pak’s director of sales and purchasing. “We have an existing customer base that we don’t intend to cannibalize. Certain clients will see an increase in their sales because of this label. It’s those clients that we brought this to the table for.”