Amidst the trend for local produce, and in response to more and more consumers wanting to know more about where their produce comes from, tomato producer Wittenberg Gemuese GmbH, held their first ever open day last Saturday (27 August), giving visitors the chance to see first hand how their Luther tomatoes are grown.

"The open day was the first time that we had ever opened our doors to the public, and with more than 600 visitors, we were really pleased with the response. We held a few tours showing our greenhouses, the packhouse, explained how the plants are grown, the importance of bumblebees, and our biological defense against diseases, like Macrolophus." said Kevin van IJperen, Head of Sales at Wittenberg Gemüse.

Wittenberg Gemüse was started by successful producers from the Netherlands who wanted to bring their experience with sustainable growing to the Wittenberg area in Eastern Germany. The location was strategic, the nearby SKW Piesteritz agrochemical and industrial chemical works provides the heat and the carbon dioxide. These products are needed for photosynthesis (CO2) produced in the production of ammonia and urea. The current greenhouse installation is the first step of a total of three planned stages, with a planned total acreage of 45 hectares.

Local to local
Our focus is in the German market, and our location in the East of Germany helps serve this demand. Although a lot of their tomatoes are sent out to the surrounding area, the company has enough volumes to supply the rest of the country as well.

"The answer to 'what is local to local' exactly, actually depends on the supermarkets. Some believe that local is anything from Germany, others divide local into regions. It also depends on what is actually available on the market." shared van IJperen.

"People want to know where their food is coming from, so we like to inform consumers about how our Luther tomatoes are grown. This also depends on supermarkets, but some of our punnets have the story about where they come from on the back, and other packaging has a QR code on the back so that the consumer knows it comes from us and can learn more about our company."

Switch to smaller varieties
Wittenberg Gemüse, currently produces three types of tomatoes for the German market, tomatoes on the vine, cocktail tomatoes on the vine and cherry plum (santa) tomatoes.

Just as in other markets, smaller tomato varieties are expected to continue to increase in popularity. Wittenberg Gemüse is keeping on top of this, looking into new varieties to fit demand.

"We are looking into smaller varieties, but it is not just about putting something on the market, it is about finding the perfect fit to what consumers want. Once something becomes popular everyone start producing these tomatoes all at the same time, so it is all about finding the right tomato and to have the right taste to stand out above the rest." Concludes van IJperen.

For more information:
Kevin van Ijperen
Wittenberg Gemuese GMBH
Tel: +49 03491 / 50 62 5-0
Fax: +49 03491 / 50 62 511