Gem Tomato looks forward to successful summer season
Since starting operations in the early ’80s, Gem Tomato has focused on marketing vine-ripened, field-grown tomatoes. The company grows in Florida from November through May, moves north to Arkansas for harvesting in June and July and then heads to its home headquarters in Benton Harbor, MI, where it completes its summer program.
“As the Michigan summer season approaches, the biggest concerns facing our growers is the rising costs of production,” said Gary Margolis, president of Gem Tomato. “Growers can do little to offset rising production costs. Tomatoes are an unforgiving crop. Good yields and high quality are essential for profitability and cutting corners is not an option.”
With that in play, Margolis noted that retail prices and increasing demand for fresh tomatoes should allow for fair returns for committed summer tomato producers for the Michigan season in 2022. “Increasing consumer interest in locally- and regionally-sourced produce continues to drive sales in the Michigan summer window,” he said. “Our central location to major Midwest cities offers fresh daily and overnight deliveries, which allows for increased inventory turnover and reduced food miles.”
Benton Harbor has a long history as a central shipping point for an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and it’s been a successful home for Gem Tomato through the years. “Today, several generations of family farms continue to produce high-quality produce that is distributed nationwide,” Margolis said. “At one time, the Benton Harbor Fruit Market was one of the largest in the nation.”
For that reason, Gem Tomato is happy to be working in a place that’s not only great for production, but has a great deal of knowledgeable produce experts to keep the industry running strong. “We have been working with some of the same farm families for over 30 years and consider them partners and friends,” Margolis said. “We encourage our customers to visit the farms, meet the grower families and understand more of what is involved in getting fresh tomatoes to market every day of the season.”
Gem Tomato’s customer base is a mix of retailers, wholesale distributors and foodservice companies that consider Michigan field-grown tomatoes as somewhat of a specialty these days, with great flavor that is well recognized by consumers. Planting for the Michigan harvest is currently underway, and so far, growing conditions are good, and everyone at the company is looking forward to a successful summer season.