When thinking of 2020, cocktails may not be the first thing to come to your mind. Still it’s cocktail’o clock at the moment – cocktail tomatoes that is. Even though the European tomato prices in the traditional season have been unfavorable, the cocktail segment has been a positive exception. Is it an effect of the COVID outbreak and people paying more attention to their food? “Could be, but the cocktail segment has been growing for many years now,” says Wilfred Scheffers with Plantfactory, in charge of the marketing and sales of TomaTech tomato varieties in Northern Europe.
“The acreage of cocktail tomatoes in the Netherlands alone has grown to almost 200 hectares over the last years. The market seems positive for this growth and we foresee further expansion”, Wilfred says. This year the tomato prices in the traditional, unlit season haven’t been good at all and especially for bulk tomatoes the prices have been low. Products in a higher segment, like cocktail, have been a positive exception. “There’s a demand for more flavorful, high quality tomatoes”, he adds. “Cocktail tomatoes are an answer to this demand and people are willing to pay a higher price per kilo for this type of tomato, that of course also comes with a higher cost price.”
Wilfred believes further expansion of the acreage is possible – although it should of course be controlled. “You need to think of your market when starting to grow cocktail tomatoes and should not do it without proper sales channels. It’s like the snacking segment – growing those without having your sales organised is asking for a disaster – yet there’s growth potential for this segment.” According to him, the development of cocktail tomatoes itself is also in full swing. With Plantfactory he’s responsible for the marketing and sales of the tomato varieties of the Israeli breeding company TomaTech, and they’re answering to the developments in the market with varieties that are high in flavor.
A remarkable introduction in the cocktail segment is the Cosmopolitan (TT750). “A dark red, shiny cocktail of 55-60 grams with strong green parts. The yield numbers are remarkable – we've seen up to 10-15% higher yields than the nearest competitor – but even more remarkable is the positive bite and the flavorful, high brix of 7. The fruits are solid and the shelf life is above expectations, making it the best salad tomato currently available.” The variety is currently being tested all across Europe and in America, and the responses are very positive. “Germany, Austria, Italy, Netherlands...”, Wilfred sums up. “Of course it’s still trials, but it performs very well compared to the main variety. The genetics are strong for this one, with the flavor being exceptional.” Trials are currently also conducted in the lighted cultivation.
Whether it will be the Pina Colada, Jawbreaker or Screwdriver hasn’t been decided, but the TT818 is another remarkable variety from the TomaTech portfolio. “Although we might better describe it as the Reserva wine under the tomatoes”, Wilfred laughs, referring to the aromatic, herby flavor of the tomato. But before you get to taste this one, it’s the color that attracts attention: when ripe, it’s a violet/purple variety. “A beautiful contrast since also the green parts are high in color and strong in quality. The growth is very consistent and the fruits are high in lycopene and strong against tearing. All in all it’s a beautiful, exclusive product.”
For those looking for an alternative to the standard red tomato, the TomViolet or the TomAmuse (Stoffels bvba) shape has some new surprises to bring as well. The pepper-shaped cherry TOV was introduced In Violet with the Stoffels farm in Belgium. almost three years ago and is now available in red, bright yellow and striking orange as well. “The taste is no less in these varieties than it is in the red one, and we hope to bring more commercial possibilities by expanding the assortment with these new colors. Boosting the range, so to say!”