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Pundit’s Mailbag — Imagination Farms

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, August 14, 2006

We kicked off last week with an article focused on the rapid growth in the use of cartoon characters to promote produce.

The Pundit received an e-mail from Matthew Caito, CEO and a principal in Imagination Farms, the new non-transactional produce company set up to build the Disney Garden brand in the produce section. He tells me that although I caught the fact that they had signed agreements with Ito Packing and Crunch Pak, they have also signed marketing agreements with Four Star Produce, Progresso Produce and Sunwest Fruit Co.

I first met Matthew when he was a newbe as his dad, Phil Caito, and his uncle, Fred Caito, invited me to address the retail customers of Caito Foods Service. The company is based in Indianapolis, and the meeting was held at Notre Dame.

I met a great group of people, including another uncle, Joseph Caito, and, I remember, coming from a family of produce wholesalers myself, at being so impressed with what they had grown from their father’s work on the market selling bananas.

It was my first business trip to Indiana, my first trip to a wholesaler which had morphed into a massive service wholesaler, my first visit to Notre Dame and a trip I remember fondly. Still have a great clock they sent me as thanks after I got home, and some of the retailers I met that day still call or e-mail when they need information.

In any case Matthew, who dual tasks as marketing director for Caito Foods while launching Imagination Farms, seems to have inherited the entrepreneurial gene. He has partnered up in this deal with Don Goodwin, who is a player in this non-transactional space by virtue of his time at Green Giant Fresh. They have proclaimed their mission of their company to be “increasing the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables among children” — a worthy goal indeed, and the pundit expresses sincere wishes they should both do well by doing good.

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