A History of Tradition
In the mid-1800's, the Tamborini and Benech families settled in the Santa Clara Valley. Having dried sweet cut fruit in Italy, the Benech family started farming and drying apricots, peaches, prunes and other stone fruit.
While business had flourished for the families through the first half of the century, in the post-war years, the demand for dried sweet fruit was eclipsed by the availability of fresh. Seeking to maintain production and generate new markets, Ray Benech hit upon sun drying tomatoes by the same process as stone fruits. This temporary solution proved an astute move. The growing consumer preference for Italian cuisine in the 1970's fueled a demand for complementary Italian specialty products. The Benech family sat poised to take advantage of the opportunity.
In the early 1980's, Robert Benech decided to branch out from the family business. He purchased the dry yard portion of the fruit company, and proceeded to reshape his corporate goals and strategy around Sun Dried Tomatoes.
VSP Products was essentially a victim of urbanization in Santa Clara County where high-tech business interests gradually overshadowed the importance of agriculture. The firm studied numerous valley locations before moving the plant to Newman, deep in the heart of California's Central Valley. The combination of favorable drying weather, an agriculture-based valley economy and a location close to the major north/south artery of California were deciding factors in the move.
Benech then concentrated his energy and resources utilizing modern technology to perfect the sun drying process. At the same time, Benech renamed the company Valley Sun, in homage to California's sun and its valley heartland, his resource for premium Roma-style tomatoes. Valley Sun of California was sold in November of 2007 to VSP Products, Inc.
VSP Products is a technologically advanced sun drying facility. Many millions of pounds of traditional Sun Dried Tomatoes are processed each year; bright red, supple and packed with intense tomato flavor. Unlike tomatoes exposed to high-temperature mechanical tunnel drying, sun drying insures a consistently tender and tasteful tomato. Thanks to VSP Products' promotion efforts, Sun Dried Tomatoes now rank as one of America's most popular value-added ingredients. From pizza and pasta to salad dressings to artisan breads, Sun Dried Tomatoes have joined the meal mainstream.