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Carl Mastronardi wins Produce Person of the Year Award

During the annual Ontario Produce Marketing Association Gala Nov. 9, Carl Mastronardi, president of DelFrescoPure, was the recipient of the OPMA Cory Clack-Streef Produce Person of the Year Award. Mastronardi received this prestigious award for his diligence and dedication to the greenhouse strawberry program.

“This is one of the most unforgettable events of my life. To be recognized by OPMA, my peers and the experts in the produce sector is a highlight that I treasure with abundant gratitude,” said Mastronardi. “I was completely unaware that OPMA was considering me for this award, so it came as a complete surprise.”mastroJamie D’Alimonte, partner and chief operation officer for Del Fresco Produce Ltd., Adam Donikian, national procurement manager of produce for Sobeys, and Carl Mastronardi, president of DelFrescoPure.

Back in July of 2016, Mastronardi and his partner, Jamie D’Alimonte, decided to test run the growing of one acre of strawberries in their greenhouse. Upon completion of the trial, the analysis of the growth within the greenhouse micro-climate environment coupled with favorable feedback from local and national retailers, had Mastronardi convinced that they had tapped into an important niche market.

By September of 2017, 10 acres of cucumber greenhouses were retrofitted to grow strawberries using high-pressure sodium grow lights enabling the strawberries to grow all year long. Production was scheduled for January 2018. DelFrescoPure was the first greenhouse grower in Ontario to offer greenhouse-grown strawberries during the winter season. With support from local and national retail partners, the strawberry program was a huge success and drove the further expansion of six acres for a total of 17 acres of strawberry growing — all year round.

DelFrescoPure’s strawberry program marketing and communication plan includes a social media campaign with a local registered dietician, promoting the locally grown and buy local message for strawberry sales, a double-sided billboard rental spot at the Ontario Food Terminal, social media outreach with Produce Made Simple, TV segments with RT and other influencers, featured ads with retail partners throughout the year, in-store demos with consumer-facing POS materials about how we grow, editorials in the Windsor Star, multiple interviews with the media, a video on "How We Grow Greenhouse Strawberries,” and outreach with trade publications promoting YES!Berries Your Everyday Snack strawberries.

During the launch of the company's new YES!Berries Your Everyday Snack strawberries product, the initiation of these communication plans resulted in multiple compliments for Mastronardi regarding consumer education outreach throughout various social media platforms.
“I would like to congratulate our president, Carl Mastronardi, on winning the OPMA Cory Clack-Streef Produce Person of the Year Award and our DelFrescoPure team in achieving the vision we both had in creating a truly unique, fresh and flavorful product that’s available year-round,” said D’Alimonte, chief operation officer for Del Fresco Produce Ltd. “To all of our staff from our greenhouses, warehouses, distribution, sales and marketing as well as our many loyal retail partners, we could not have done this without you. A sincere thank you is extended to all of them.”