Greenhouse grower Village Farms International, Inc. posted a 45% increase in first-quarter revenue as tomato prices surged and said it expects continuing growth in consumer demand this year.

Average tomato selling prices rose 36% during the quarter, as prices returned to “more normalized” levels compared with depressed prices a year earlier, Village Farms said in a May 10 statement.

Higher prices “demonstrates that consumer consumption for fresh fruits and vegetables is returning to pre-recession levels,” Michael DeGiglio, Village Farms’ chief executive, said in the statement. “We expect continuing growth in consumer demand in 2010 as compared with 2009 levels and are working hard to sustain improved results.”

Village Farms, one of North America’s largest producers of greenhouse-grown tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers, said net sales for the three months ended March 31 rose to $31.1 million from $21.4 million a year earlier.

Net earnings rose to $4.2 million from $640,000 a year earlier, Village Farms said. The company is based in Eatontown, N.J.

Village Farms owns greenhouses covering 230 acres and markets produce grown on another 190 acres, according to the company’s Web site.

The company will “continue to concentrate on expanding our retail customer base with some of the largest grocery retail organizations in North America,” DeGiglio said in the statement.

“We will focus on increasing our capacity through new greenhouse developments and by adding partner growers to increase our market share,” he said.