AU: Industry day celebrates innovation and highlights new trends in tomato size, colour and taste

Rising popularity in snackable tomatoes is one of the key trends driving the global tomato industry, heard over 80 growers, suppliers, retailers and educators who attended the De Ruiter Living Proof™ Tomato Innovation Day held in Melbourne on 10 November.


The second annual Tomato Innovation Day provided insights into the De Ruiter breeding pipeline and portfolio development, global tomato tastes and trend and a glasshouse variety tour while growers had the chance to participate in a variety masterclass. Hans Schepers, Data Scientist, Agronomics of Taste and Yield from Monsanto Holland, guided attendees through a tomato tasting and presentation on De Ruiter’s focus on quality in the vegetable chain. 

Consumer trends in tomatoes emerged as a key theme on the day, as attendees heard from experts on how demand for “snackable” tomato varieties like cherry and cocktail are growing around the world, as consumers seek a fast, convenient and healthy snack. 

“What we are seeing is that tomatoes really can meet a range of consumer preferences – for taste, convenience and colour,” said Anne Williams, Monsanto’s Global Product Manager for Tomatoes, who travelled to Australia to meet with growers at the event. 

“A pack of cherry tomatoes offers consumers a healthier alternative than a packet of sweets and we are seeing that demand translate to growth in the cherry and cocktail size categories. Smaller varieties are generally sweeter and we are seeing an overall preference toward these sweeter flavours and heritage tastes,” Anne said. 

Tomatoes are playing an increasing role in the value-added vegetable segment as well, packed with other ingredients like tomato salsa and guacamole, making it easier for consumers to enjoy tomatoes in a variety of ways. Food Marketer, Dr Hazel MacTavish-West who spoke at event, said this push towards convenience brings opportunities for growers to look at how tomatoes can be paired with other food groups likes protein (especially dairy) to give consumers, a complete snacking or condiment option. 

Dr MacTavish-West also pointed to increasing awareness among consumers of the health benefits of tomatoes. “Tomatoes are starting to gain recognition as being one of the few fruits or vegetables containing lycopene, a carotenoid with very high anti-oxidant activity among other health benefits,” she said. 

“And just one serving of tomato is a good source of Vitamin C providing 25% of the recommended daily intake helping to support a healthy immune system and heart,” Dr MacTavish said.

Monsanto Commercial Vegetables Lead, Rachel Palumbo, said Tomato Innovation Day is really about delighting customers and industry partners with an innovative, educational and inspirational tomato event for all the senses. 

“De Reuiter™ is committed to bringing to growers the very best varieties that are consistently high performing, yield well, offer good disease resistance and allow them to stay ahead of rapidly changing consumer tastes and preferences,” Rachel said. 

“Where once you would see a wall of red in the supermarket without a lot of differentiation in the eye of the consumer, we have listened to growers and worked with them to ensure our pipeline reflects what growers need and consumers want.

“Tomatoes are such a versatile product, tasty and nutritious. When you step into the tomato aisle today, you now see amazing colour and variety – reds, oranges, yellows, striped and even pink tomatoes, all of which spark the senses and add great dimension and depth to how consumers think about the humble tomato. 

“It is an exciting time to be in the tomato industry in Australia and we share the passion of De Ruiter growers to bring proven product performance and constant innovation,” Rachel said. 

For more information 
Monsanto Company
Vegetable Seeds Division
PO Box 6051
St Kilda Rd Central
Victoria Australia 8008
T: +61 3 9522 7166

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