Tomato Distributor Works With Large, Small Scale CA Farms

Morning Star Company Supplies Tomatoes to Large Distributors 

By Emily McKay Johnson, Associate Editor

Renee Rianda with Morning Star Packing discussing the California tomato processing company

The state of California has an ample supply of tomato processors and growers. Renee Rianda, a representative with Morning Star Company, talked about the Woodland, Calif. packing industry that mainly supplies to large distributors. “Morning Star company is the overall umbrella. Morning Star is a big player.” she said, “We are unique in the fact that we are owned by one person.”

The majority of California tomatoes are used as an ingredient in other brands. Morning Star is a name that is familiar with companies such as Domino’s Pizza and Heinz Ketchup. They are not branded like companies such as Del Monte or Campbell’s, but they are used in prepared foods for grocery stores.

“Where I fit into this whole massive situation is I deal with the growers.” she said about her role with the company, “I use roughly a couple hundred growers which is not quite everybody in the state but most of them.”

The fluctuation in supply and demand for tomatoes can vary from year to year. Rianda said that is why they work with a variety of farms in California, “We have everybody from a small individual grower of everything to larger family farms that do a variety of commodities.”

Though there is not a panel or board of directors, the Morning Star Company base is efficient. “We’re very flat as far as an organization goes.” Rianda said, “Everybody has their expertise in the areas that they are best versed in.”

Rianda likes to keep herself updated at conferences around the state. In turn, she can help growers have a commodity to sell. Using the right products is key to Rianda, “That way everybody can still have ample tomatoes to eat.”


The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) is currently accepting concept proposals for the 2015 grant cycle. FREP’s competitive grant program funds research that advances the environmentally safe and agronomically sound use of fertilizing materials.

The 2015 Request for Proposals (RFP) includes several initiatives put forth by the department to help effectively manage nitrogen fertilizers in agriculture. New this year is a call for integrating different aspects of nutrient management, including fertigation, irrigation, crop development and soil fertility into easy-to-use decision making tools and concepts that can help improve management practices. Additionally, the FREP seeks concepts and proposals to provide strong education and outreach opportunities on effectively and efficiently managing fertilizing materials.

Proposals for research projects are requested to fill gaps in nitrogen management information for specific crops, including corn, pima cotton, processing tomatoes, walnuts, citrus, and deep rooted vegetables such as carrots. Furthermore, the FREP is encouraging the development and submission of concepts that will demonstrate effective nutrient management practices that have been developed through experimental research trials (e.g., prior FREP research findings).

These demonstrations should implement practices at the field scale in organic and conventional fertilizers. Other priority research areas are developing Best Management Practices (BMPs), along with evaluating strategies and potential technologies to increase crop nitrogen fertilizer uptake; reduce nitrogen movement off irrigated agricultural lands, including nitrate leaching below the root zone; and minimize nitrous oxide emissions from nitrogen fertilizers.

Applicants are invited to submit two-page concept proposals to the FREP by Friday, January 16, 2015. Concepts submitted should be in line with at least one of the program’s identified priority research areas. Further information on the 2015 FREP request for concept proposals, including timelines, application criteria, priority research areas, and examples of successful proposals are available at:

In addition to the FREP’s regular RFP, CDFA is preparing a special RFP as part of its nitrogen initiatives. The priority areas for this special RFP are scheduled to be announced early January 2015. 

All concept proposals will be reviewed by the FREP’s Technical Advisory Subcommittee (TASC). Concept proposals that are selected by the TASC will be invited for development into full project proposals.

Applicants may also send e-mail inquiries to

Since 1990, the Fertilizer Research and Education Program has funded more than 160 research projects focusing on California’s important and environmentally sensitive cropping systems. A database of completed and ongoing research is publically available at:

In collaboration with the University of California Davis, FREP is developing fertilization guidelines for major crops grown in California. The guidelines are uploaded on a flow basis and are available to growers and crop advisors through this web-based platform: