It's the size of a blueberry but it is bright red and shiny - like a tomato. And indeed - it is a tomato that Ben Meadows is holding in his hand. It's the Tomberry, a Dutch innovation that he brought to Australia in conjunction with our specialist plant propagation nursery partner Trandos Hydroponics, and is now marketing. "The take-up of Tomberry from retailers and consumers in Australia has been beyond our expectations. This gives us the ability to quickly scale up production and develop the Tomberry range," Ben says.
A novelty in this supermarket down-under!
"Our growers need a variety that can deliver consistent great quality and flavour. That same variety also has to be profitable and deliver agronomic benefits to the grower. It's very hard to get the balance right, often the best varieties are difficult and expensive to grow," Ben explains. He's with Edison, an Australian intellectual property and product commercialisation business that currently has a number of exclusive varieties that are licensed to major supermarkets and glasshouse growers in Australia and New Zealand. "We focus on sustainably grown glasshouse varieties. We look for varietal traits that improve the product offer to both growers and consumers."
Recently the company launched a new micro ‘EXTREME’ snacking range and the Tomberry is the first product in it. Tomberry is a naturally bred variety by Eminent Seeds in Holland and is the Worlds smallest tomato. All Australian Tomberry is grown in environmentally sustainable greenhouses where they are 90% more water efficient than traditional growing methods. "The glasshouses also help protect these little gems from Australia’s harsh climatic conditions," Ben says. "The plant behaves similar to a standard glasshouse tomato on the vine (TOV). The key difference is that each truss has 250 Tomberry ‘berries' opposed to 5 large Tomatoes," Ben says. "Tomberry is a unique product weighing between half a gram to 2 grams - the size of a blueberry and a tomato that packs a much bigger nutritional punch."
Added to meals
Ben explains how Tomberry can be added to many meals to make them healthy, add flavour and colour. "These little tomatoes actually pop in your mouth adding a great textural element to your dishes. It’s a “NO CHOP” tomato that is very versatile and can be used as a Fresh Snack, or in Salads, Stews and Soups or on Pizza’s and Pasta’s. Then, Tomberry is also very snack-able and great in lunch boxes. In addition, Tomberry is high in lycopene, vitamin A & vitamin C, a good source of fiber, high in antioxidants and cholesterol free."
A combination like this is exactly what the Edison team wants in their product range. "All in all, it's a variety that suits the Edison team very well and that we wanted to offer to our customers."
At Edison they see enormous opportunity in Australia for Tomberry in food service also. "The taste is great, but the unique micro size is the tipping point that has given Tomberry the thumbs up by chefs and customers. With Tomberry's ability to dress-up a plate, add excitement and style and deliver that flavour pop when eating we think it's made for the restaurant market."
And it turned out they were right: The take-up of Tomberry from retailers and consumers in Australia has been beyond their expectations. The team is quickly expanding production of their wonderful ‘little’ tomato to keep up with demand.
"The success gives us the ability to quickly scale up production and develop the Tomberry range. This gives us plenty of options to expand the Tomberry offer in the future," Ben concludes. And there's more to come. The next micro snacking products coming through Edison's trial program is Tinker-bell micro blocky capsicums and new colour variants of Tomberry Tomatoes including chocolate, orange and pink. "I’m really excited to see this Tomberry Carnival range hit the shelves very soon."