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Nature Sweet faces the coronavirus

Produce shoppers will recognize San Antonio, TX-based NatureSweet BB #:152351 as a familiar source of smaller—often bite-sized—packaged tomatoes, with alluring names such as Glorys, Twilights, and Comets.

The firm’s website claims that Cherubs—its branded cherry tomatoes—are the number one selling small tomato in the world.

Recently we checked in with NatureSweet to see how they had been faring in the rocky months of 2020.

Lori Castillo, vice president of marketing at NatureSweet, replied, “When grocery trips [were] drastically reduced in March due to closed retailers, and the uncertainty of a ‘normal’ future was looming, NatureSweet associates jumped into action leading with their expertise—tomatoes!”

The company donated over 1.3 million pounds of produce (with nearly $5 million in value) to food banks across the U.S. and communities in Mexico, sent family safety kits home with associates, and donated safety kits to communities where it operates. “NatureSweet kept people their number one priority,” Castillo stressed.

NatureSweet president and CEO Rodolfo Spielmann commented, “A shared belief that our well-being is dependent upon our decisions and not our circumstances led to the mobilization and delivery of comfort, relief, and hope that it’ll all be OK in the form of small and delicious tomatoes,” along with medical equipment.

NatureSweet’s measures for protecting its over 7,000 employees involves implementing a safety plan, including temperature checkpoints, sanitation, social distancing inside facilities, increased shifts to reduce employee contact, and transportation to and from work.

Employees also received bonuses and sundries for front-line workers, thank-you lunches on Fridays, and paid leave for at-risk associates.

The company “is hiring additional employees to ensure no gaps in supply occur during this time when consumers are relying so heavily on grocery stores,” Castillo added.

The coronavirus came as a shock to the United States—and to many as a tragedy. Despite these upheavals, it is astonishing how well the American economy, particularly the produce sector, continued to function. The nation has many companies like NatureSweet to thank.

“NatureSweet uses a proprietary growing system and packaging, which is helpful as consumers are encouraged to make fewer trips to the grocery store but also desire fresh produce,” Castillo adds.

Richard Smoley, editor for Blue Book Services, Inc., has more than 40 years of experience in magazine writing and editing, and is the former managing editor of California Farmer magazine. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities, he has published 11 books.