Business is so good at Liberty Fruit Co. in Kansas City, Kan., that the owners hired 55 employees in the past year, adding staff in virtually every aspect of the operation from the front office to the loading docks.

Part of the growth is related to the company’s new grape tomato program, said Allen Caviar, president. With the addition of the program, all of the tomatoes Liberty packs and ships now go through a sanitizing wash, Caviar said.

Liberty is packing the grape tomatoes with customers from wholesalers to retailers and foodservice operators in mind. The grape tomatoes are available in pints and quarts, as well as in bulk in 3-, 5-, 10- and 20-pound bags, according to Scott Danner, chief operating officer.

Danner said the company is really pushing private label products and the grape tomatoes are just one more commodity that Liberty’s customers can rely on to further develop their individual brands.

Liberty’s fresh-cut program, Carol’s Cuts, is also expanding, Danner said. More retail packs are available in a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The 47-year-old company is also continuing to serve a robust restaurant base in the Kansas City metro area, Danner said.

“The Kansas City area keeps opening new restaurants, even in the past couple of years with the down economy,” Danner said, adding that local produce remains a priority in that sector.

“We’ve been doing local for decades,” Danner said. “Chefs have been buying local for years. The drought really hit some of the local suppliers hard in this region this year, though.”