Grower-shippers and importers of Mexican greenhouse vegetables look forward to strong demand as deals kick off this fall.

JemD Farms, Leamington, Ontario, ships from Mexico year round, but production this season should peak between mid-September and mid-May, president Jim DiMenna said.

JemD sources cluster, beefsteak, grape, cocktail and other specialty tomatoes; eggplant; and colored bell peppers from its all-glass, high-tech greenhouses in Mexico.

The company also has a small cucumber deal, which this season should run from about Nov. 1 to about March 1, DiMenna said.

“So many cucumbers are grown up here in Canada, we don’t grow many in Mexico,” he said. “We have a small deal, but it doesn’t move the needle much.”

Beefed-up production

JemD has increased Mexican production of its greenhouse-grown clusters and beefsteaks and its Artisan-brand and other specialty tomatoes, DiMenna said.

Aaron Quon, greenhouse and vegetables category director for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, said Oppenheimer expects to market conventional greenhouse-grown red, yellow and orange peppers from grower partner Divemex from October through May.

Organic product should be available in January and ship through May, Quon said.

Conventional green peppers start in early December and end in May. Oppenheimer also sources Mexican greenhouse tomatoes on the vine, long English cucumbers, slicer cucumbers and roma tomatoes throughout the winter.

Mexican greenhouse-grown peppers should be a growth item for Oppenheimer this year, Quon said.

“Divemex has planted an additional 60 hectares in Culiacan. This translates to about 600,000 new cases of conventional peppers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Divemex is also converting some of its existing conventional facilities to organic, so Oppenheimer anticipates a significant boost in its organic pepper program.

While red, orange and yellow remain the popular colors for greenhouse-grown peppers, Oppenheimer also will see a return to an old favorite this season.

“Divemex is reintroducing a green pepper, providing our customers with the option of a high-quality, greenhouse-grown green pepper,” Quon said.

Divemex’s green peppers, like its colored ones, are Fair Trade certified, Quon said.

Oppenheimer also expects a boost in its slicer cucumber sales this season.

“Slicers have become increasingly popular with our customers over the last few years,” he said.

Nogales, Ariz.-based broker Bernardi & Associates Inc. expects to market greenhouse-grown Mexican vegetables from September to the beginning of June, president Joe Bernardi said.

The company’s product roster this season will be heavily tilted towards round and roma tomatoes, with some bell peppers in the mix as well, he said.

Bernardi expects strong demand heading into the Mexican season this year, based on how the last few months have gone.

“Demand for everything this summer has been phenomenal,” he said. “It’s been well above normal pricing. I think the early stages of Nogales will benefit as well.”

Nogales-based Apache Produce Co. expects a similar mix of greenhouse and shadehouse vegetables from Mexico this season, general manager Alberto Maldonado, the company’s general manager.

Volumes to hold steady

Volumes also are expected to be largely unchanged from 2012-13, Maldonado said.

By about mid-September, Apache expected to begin importing tomatoes from the Nayarit growing region of Mexico, Maldonado said.

After two years of growing in the region on a mainly test basis, Apache is ramping up its imports this season.

“It’s not big, but little by little, we’re increasing volumes,” Maldonado said.

Apache will bring in both protected ag-grown rounds and romas from Nayarit through May or Jun and expects to start its Sinaloa greenhouse deal by mid-November.

English cucumbers will kick things off, with rounds and romas following in mid-December and colored bell peppers in early January.

Mike Aiton, marketing director for Coachella, Calif.-based Prime Time International, said the company expects to ship Mexican greenhouse vegetables from October through April.

Prime Time’s 2013-14 Mexican program will include red, yellow and orange peppers; and round, roma and grape tomatoes.

Romas are a new item for Prime Time out of Mexico, Aiton said.

Nogales-based Wholesum Family Farms expects its Mexican production to be in full swing in time for holiday promotions, said Anthony Totta, who does marketing for the company.

The company plans to market organic beefsteak, on-the-vine and cocktail tomatoes; hard and soft squash; cucumbers; bell peppers; and eggplant this season, Totta said.

Due to rising demand, Wholesum plans to add Mexican-grown English cucumbers and mini-cucumbers to its roster this year.

The company will take a gradual approach with the new items, but will have enough to meet the needs of customers who asked for them, Totta said.

“It’s not a massive amount, but it’s bigger than a trial,” he said.