25 years of Belgian truss tomatoes

On 1 August, BelOrta celebrated an unusual milestone. Exactly 25 years ago, the first Belgian vine tomatoes were supplied to the then Mechelse auction. This was one of the forerunners of the current BelOrta. The name says it all: these truss tomatoes are cut and sold in trusses. A historic decision which was groundbreaking for further tomato cultivation in Belgium.

F.l.t.r.: Raf De Vis, Luc Peeters, Marja Van Dessel, Rudy Verbruggen, Sonia Smets, Lisette De Groof, Dirk Uytterhoeven, Jan Smets, Dominiek Devisch, Frans De Laet, Chris De Pooter and Dirk Bertels

1 August 1993 - a historic date
Belgium is in mourning after the sudden death of King Baudouin while on holiday in Motril, Spain. This landmark event evokes different memories for the then tomato growers. Exactly 25 years ago, a few progressive farmers and their advisers saw an opportunity. They harvested a few of the varieties grown back then, still on the vine. BelOrta's sales managers and those involved in quality and packaging were also involved. They wanted to bring these tomatoes to market in a well-thought-out manner. The vine tomato was born and has since never disappeared from Belgian tomato greenhouses.

Birthday cake

Birthday party with first pioneers
BelOrta celebrated this important, innovative event on the afternoon of 1 August. Joining in were Jan and Sonia Smets and Marja Van Dessel, who were the very first truss tomatoes farmers. Then there was Dominiek Devisch, who is the cultivation advisor that came up with the idea. Rudy Verbruggen and Frans De Laet, who were tomato inspectors at BelOrta back then, Dirk Bertels, BelOrta's chairman, and Dirk Uytterhoeven, PAG Tomaten BelOrta's chairman were present. Also present were Chris De Pooter, BelOrta's Director, Luc Peeters, the former director of the vegetable cultivation Research Station, and Raf De Vis, the Research Station's current Director. Quite a few memories about the first months were shared. These were about the search for suitable tomato varieties and greenhouse compartments. Back then, a lot of ideas were pioneered. This was done around feeding, watering, and climate control for a plant where the fruit is not immediately harvested but remains on the vine.

Most popular vegetable to this day
BelOrta was present at the birth of this innovation in Belgian tomato cultivation 25 years ago. To this day, BelOrta farmers keep investing in new tomato varieties and cultivation methods. This is done successfully because these tomatoes remain the most-bought vegetable for home use by average Belgians. This is according to the VLAM's annual research. Loose, as well as truss tomatoes, can now be found in many different kinds, shapes, and sizes. They add the perfect flavour to many-a-summer salad or winter dish. Currently, BelOrta has 40 vine tomato growers who bring their fresh, local product to auction on a daily basis. This year, 1 August was a good day with regards to the supply of truss tomatoes. There was no less than 773.970 kg. In short, fully available in shops for all consumers.

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