is one of the largest independent greenhouse produce growers in Canada. In March 2018, NatureFresh™ started growing the Tomberry® for commercial selling. We asked Niels Peter Klapwijk
, Sales Procurement Manager at NatureFresh™ Farms, how they experienced the first crop.
1. Does the first crop of the Tomberry® pearl tomato work well?
For NatureFresh™ this is the first year of growing the Tomberry® commercially. We are getting to know the variety every day a little better.
The spring in Ontario was extremely dark, so the fact that the Tomberry® plants are real light lovers and that it’s a new variety to us meant that we struggled with keeping the plants generative enough. As soon as the sun came out and we got some tips and tricks from ‘Mr. Tomberry®’ Jan van Heijningen, we started to see big differences. The plants are in balance now, quality improved tremendously, and we can get better yields!
2. How do you experience the quality of the Tomberry®?
After we figured out the ideal post-harvest conditions, the quality and shelf life increased tremendously! With the right growing conditions and post-harvest conditions, the shelf life of the Tomberry® can go up to 3-4 weeks. We are very happy with how things are going.
The fact that the Tomberry® tomatoes are so small is very unique, but it’s also a big challenge to make sure that all of them are in the best shape. The small size means that a bad one has the potential to slip through – the risk with this variety is certainly higher than with ‘regular’ specialty tomatoes.
3. What are the sales opportunities for NatureFresh™ Farms in Canada and America?
The market in North America has been very receptive to this new “berry” segment within the tomato category. Consumers here are really looking for flavor, consistency, convenience and versatility.
The Tomberry® pearl tomatoes accomplish all of these needs perfectly.
We have started entering the retail side of this business, but in the future, we see massive potential in the food service markets as well, specifically because of the convenience and versatility of these tomatoes.
In the food service business, we see potential because labor can be a great challenge. The Tomberry® pearl tomato reduces the need for cutting tomatoes during food preparation. From a versatility standpoint, there are so many uses for the Tomberry® that the possibilities are endless. Soups, salads, pizzas, subs and snacking are just a few options. Because of the size you will get more tomatoes in every bite of anything you put them on.
4. What is the response from the market?
The response has been somewhat overwhelming. We started off small, because we are still learning, but demand has been very strong since the start of our season. On social media, consumers are constantly reaching out stating how much they love the size, flavor and cuteness of these tomatoes!
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5. How do you see the future perspective of the Tomberry®?
We see big potential, even though we are still new at growing this tomato and our team is still learning about it. Our strategy is to continue learning about this variety while continuing to push this tomato into new markets, such as additional locations and find new business opportunities, like the food service. We are excited for a positive and flavorful future as we move forward with this tiny but powerful tomato!