Mooney Farms, a California Produce Success Story
November 6, 2014
By Kyle Buchoff, CalAgToday reporter
After 25 years of hard work, Mooney Farms has taken its place as the #1 sun-dried tomato brand in the U.S.
The processing tomato industry is huge in California, comprising almost 100% of the US total. Farmers plant almost 270,000 acres of crop each year and the total value hovers around one billion dollars. These tomatoes are used in ketchup, salsa, sauces, dried tomato products and other foodstuffs.
Mary Mooney, owner of Mooney Farms in Chico, a premium manufacturer of sun-dried under the Bella San Luci brand, told us the rags-to-riches story of the brand. “We started about 25 years ago, actually on the side of the road. We went to farmers markets, and our first customer was Costco. We delivered one pallet, and before we knew it, we were their number one item and our products were in every Costco all over the world. So, with an interesting beginning, we jumped into the fire, and now after 25 years we are the leading producer of sun-dried tomatoes in America!”
Mooney described the evolution of their product line, “We started with the original sun-dried tomato and olive oil pack, like in Italy, but we’ve gone into wonderful pestos, ground up with sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts and parmesan cheese. Our latest venture has been to promote the flavor of sun-dried tomatoes, whether BBQ-smoked, or basil-flavored. Customers really love the convenience and the variety.”
Mooney is proud to make quality products from the best California produce, “You know, I love working in CA. I was born and raised in Sonoma before moving to the Chico area to run the family company. All of our products are from California. We even have our own California olive oil ranch. We are enjoying all the Mediterranean-style foods, but we’re able to use the bounty of Northern California to bring that to the public. ”
“Just from a personal standpoint," said Mooney, "I love the produce industry, working in it and bringing these products to market because produce is where consumers look for the healthiest items and we are excited to provide them. ”