Grower of Zing peppers under new ownership

A major greenhouse vegetable grower in southernmost southern Ontario is expanding its reach in the region.

Mucci Farms, based at Kingsville, just west of Leamington, announced Wednesday it has bought a controlling stake in Leamington-based Orangeline Farms, the grower of Zing Healthy Foods greenhouse peppers.

Financial details weren’t disclosed in Mucci’s release Wednesday, but CBC in Windsor reported Friday that Mucci paid about $30 million for a 75 per cent stake in Orangeline.

Duffy Kniaziew, whose family founded Orangeline in 2000, keeps the remaining 25 per cent share, CBC said.

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The deal for Orangeline comes with a 32-acre greenhouse plus a warehouse and 100 acres of additional land, Mucci Farms CEO Bert Mucci said in the company’s release.

“We also have plans in place to build on the additional land that was received as part of the agreement,” he said.

“It’s an exciting time for the company as we continue our aggressive expansion plans to increase our local and regional production,” he added. “Consumers are demanding more local production, and we’re listening.”

Mucci owns and operates 250 acres of tomato, pepper, cucumber, lettuce and strawberry greenhouses in Canada and the U.S. and works also with North American “partner-growers” covering another 1,500 acres.

Mucci said Wednesday it will continue to use Orangeline’s Zing brand “for the foreseeable future” since the brand has “quietly established itself among retailers and consumers.”

“Duffy and his team have done a great job with the brand and it’s familiar in our region, so we’re not looking to make any dramatic changes at the moment,” Mucci marketing director Emily Murracas said in Wednesday’s release.

“In searching for growth opportunities for both Orangeline’s staff and our ever loyal customers, the chance to partner with a world class organization like Mucci Farms was an easy decision to make,” Kniaziew said in Mucci’s release.

Mucci on Wednesday also said it has bought another 15 acres adjacent to the 60-acre tomato greenhouse operation it started developing in 2017 at Huron, Ohio, about 80 km west of Cleveland on Lake Erie.

“The first 24-acre phase is in its second season of harvesting, and we’ll be building two more identical ranges. Phase two construction is already underway,” Bert Mucci said.

The Leamington region, according to Mucci, has one of the warmest climates in Canada outside British Columbia’s lower mainland.

The region is also home to the largest concentration of greenhouses in North America, hosting most of Ontario’s 3,000-odd acres of crop production under glass, the company said. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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