"It is common to hear consumers say that tomatoes have lost their flavour," explained the heads of Gavà Grup. "Now, we can guarantee that we are offering a tomato that brings that flavour back." The company Gavà Grup, specialised in the cultivation, distribution and export of fruit and vegetables, attended Fruit Attraction (Madrid, from 5 to 7 October), where it presented the Monterosa, the new Mediterranean tomato variety grown in Cabo de Gata, Almeria, which stands out for its flavour of yesteryear, even when harvested in winter.
The new variety is a hybrid of two flagship Mediterranean tomatoes: the Pear of Girona and the Costoluto Genoveso, a traditional Italian variety. The Monterosa grown by Gavà Grup has already taken over European markets such as France and Poland. Gavà Grup, which started to grow and distribute this product in 2015, aims for the Monterosa to consolidate in the Spanish and European markets, so this campaign it has expanded its acreage in Cabo de Gata to 120 hectares and expects to harvest 10 million kilos of this delicate product.
Taste, the pending task
The heads of Gavà Grup, a fruit and vegetable company with plenty of experience, explain: "We opted for the Monterosa because we are convinced that it will revolutionise the winter tomato market, where taste is a pending task." Gavà Grup, which grows exclusively in the Iberian Peninsula (except Catalonia), cultivates the Monterosa in the municipality of Cabo de Gata (Almeria); a place with the optimal conditions for the new variety. The Monterosa is also distributed in Spain and Europe.
In addition to its organoleptic characteristics, unique in terms of flavour, texture and herbaceous aroma, the Monterosa also has an external appearance that doesn't go unnoticed. It has a lush and attractive presence. It is a large, asymmetrical, ribbed tomato, with velvety skin and very prominent sepals. Its colour, once ripe, is deep, beautiful and bright pink, which makes it very easy to identify. Although thin-skinned, its resistance and good preservation make it suitable for export.
"Grown by Gavà Grup". Cabo de Gata, best land for the Monterosa
Gavà Grup started the first tests for the marketing of Monterosa tomatoes in September 2015. The market has given an excellent welcome to this premium tomato, both at domestic level and in European countries like France and Poland, among others. Therefore, Gavà Grup, through its company KopAgro, has expanded its cultivation area in this new autumn campaign from 27 to 120 hectares, with a production of more than 10 million kilos (compared to 3 million kilos in the previous season). According to the heads of Gavà Grup, "the lands of Cabo de Gata are optimal for the cultivation of this tomato. The Monterosa is not easy to grow. Production and management are complex because of its thin skin, and other factors come into play, such as the fact that it requires waters that are very rich in salts and minerals, or that it does not tolerate any pests."
Project Monterosa, excellence from seed to harvest
The experience of Gavà Grup in the fruit and vegetable sector has allowed it to develop the Monterosa project in partnership with Semillas Fitó, which after a programme aimed at recovering the flavour and achieving the genetic improvement of traditional varieties, needed a partner that could supply the knowledge about tomato farming, as well as the right lands to meet the needs of this unique fruit.
Gavà Grup provides the necessary excellence in the process of growing, harvesting and strict selection of the product being distributed. "It is a variety which, because of its nature, is very demanding; therefore, we try to monitor it even in the post-sale, following up how the product is treated upon arrival at the point of sale, to the extent that this is possible for us," explained representatives of Gavà Grup.
Monterosa, cross between Pear of Girona and Costoluto Genoveso
The seed of Monterosa tomatoes is the result of eight years of research by the company Semillas Fitó, a leader in the sector. It is a cross between two traditional high quality tomatoes that are highly appreciated both in the market and by haute cuisine chefs: the pear tomato of Girona and the Costoluto Genoveso.
The Pear tomato of Girona, which has a Designation of Origin, is one of the traditional Catalan tomato varieties from the Empordà. Its origin is in the town of Olot. It is fleshy, with a thin skin, ideal to be consumed fresh. It is compact and without seeds; a delicate variety that needs plenty of continuous care. Once ripe, its low acidity, combined with its sweetness, make it ideal for making sauces and preserves. It is also eaten fresh in salads and even roasted or grilled.
The Costoluto Genoveso is a classic Italian tomato. It goes back to the nineteenth century. It is a ribbed fruit with a deep red colour, very thick skin and a very sweet taste. It's consumed both fresh and canned and is widely used in sauces. It is highly appreciated by chefs.
The Monterosa is a hybrid between the two. It is thin-skinned, sweet and has a traditional flavour with a perfect balance between acidity and sweetness. It has a herbaceous and aromatic intensity, it is fleshy and its pulp is creamy. Despite its thin skin, it has a long shelf life and retains all of its organoleptic characteristics. Its appearance is voluptuous, but traditional, and has a distinctive bright pink colour.