(March 17) VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Trying to put more fun into produce, BC Hot House Foods Inc. has launched a line of attention grabbing tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers that highlight the vegetables’ freshness, taste and convenience.

The Taste Buddies line of miniature roma tomatoes on the vine, sweet baby bell peppers and miniature cucumbers, shipped to foodservice and retail customers throughout North America, targets consumers looking for fresh, fun, convenient and tasty vegetables, said Kirk Homenick, marketing manager.

“That’s really what we’re challenged with as an industry: how do we increase consumption with all the health benefits?” he said. “How do we get convenient, tasty fruits and vegetables into people’s mouths as opposed to bags of chips?”

Any type of creative positioning of produce to consumers helps move that agenda forward in increasing consumption, he said.

The miniature romas and baby bell peppers, which began hitting produce shelves in early March, joined the cucumbers that B.C. Hothouse test marketed for two months at the end of last season.

Cucumber sales were so impressive, said Homenick, the marketer of hydroponic and vine-ripe tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers wanted to put some effort behind the product line and increase marketing through revamping its packaging.

The vegetables come in zippered-lock cello bags. The cucumbers are offered in 14-ounce, eight bags per box cases; mini romas, 12-ounce, eight bags per box; baby bell peppers, 6-ounce, 12 bags per case.

BC Hot House expects to market 700 cases a week of each product through the end of the growing season in November, Homenick said. The cucumbers may run through the winter months, he said.

BC Hot House developed corresponding cartoon characters that play up on the fun angle and the products’ cuteness, Homenick said.

“They’re so eye catching and are a healthy, tasty and portable way to enjoy greenhouse grown vegetables,” said Dawn Gray, vice president of marketing.

The product launch has been invigorating for BC Hot House’s growers and sales and marketing staff, Homenick said.

“It’s been really fun,” he said. “It’s amazing what a little bit of creativity behind some new products and new ideas can really do to a product to get people invigorated by it.”

Taste Buddies draw eyes to BC Hothouse offering
Miniature roma tomatoes on the vine are part of the Taste Buddies line that will be shipped to foodservice and retail customers throughout North America, targets consumers looking for fresh, fun, convenient and tasty vegetables, says Kirk Homenick, marketing manager for B.C. Hot House Foods Inc., Vancouver, British Columbia.