When we say Kikkoman, you'll probably say soy sauce and not tomato greenhouse - but you are wrong. Yesterday the 4.7 hectare Kimitsu Tomato Garden was opened officially in Japan. The Kikkoman group participates in the farm, as do the local growers of Kazusa.
The tomatoes will be sold under the brand of Fresh Del Monte Japan, of which the marketing rights belong to the Kikkoman group.
The greenhouse is located in the Chiba prefecture, near the city of Kimitsu. The 4.7 hectare greenhouse, built by VDH with screening form Luiten Greenhouses, is plotted on a 6 hectare site and features various technologies, including a fogging system, a Priva climate computer, an Aweta sorting system. Crop clean-out machines & maintenance equipment was supplied by DanDutch & Hortimat via Tomita Technologies. Richel was responsible for the electrical installation, Agrikol for the labor and VB Climate, part of VB Group, took care of the heating and cooling system - and that's quite a remarkable one.
Instead of using several smaller heat pumps, as is customary in the area, two larger heat pumps were shipped from Europe to Japan and installed in the greenhouse to take care of the heating and cooling. Installing two larger heat pumps instead of dozens of smaller ones not only saves a lot of space, but also provides a higher efficiency.
"Thanks to the climate control systems we will be able to grow tomatoes throughout the year", the team with Kimitsu explains. Summer temperatures in the area rise high and so does the humidity.
"Growing tomatoes in our warm summer season provides challenges, but the demand for the tomatoes is non-stop. Thanks to these technologies we can answer to the demand."
The tomatoes will be grown using rain water, and drain water will be recycled. "Also just like the produce from our other farm Nasu Toyama Garden we want this farm to be JGAP certified", they say. JGAP is short for Japan Good Agricultural Practice.
Kimitsu Tomato Garden was established in 2016. The farm is partly owned by the team with Kazusa Ai Aya, who have been growing vegetables for over 40 years. Their assortment includes lettuce and herbs, strawberries and tomatoes on almost 7 hectares. Some years ago almost 50 per cent of the shares were bought by Kikkoman.
Photos of the opening via Evert-Jan Krajenbrink, agricultural council Tokyo.
The tomato that will be grown in the greenhouse is what the Japanese call the 'Luxury tomato', the TOV. "The completion of this new facility will increase the supply of fresh Del Monte tomatoes", they say.
In 1990 Kikkoman gained the exclusive marketing rights to the Del Monte brand in all of Asia excluding the Philippines. Under the Del Monte brand, Kikkoman primarily manufactures and markets tomato-based goods and canned fruits and vegetables. This occurs through the subsidiary Nippon Del Monte Agri.