Tomberry: Tiny tomatoes the size of blueberries coming to Leamington greenhouse
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
The Windsor Star/Sharon Hill
Leamington, a town that’s big on tomatoes, will soon have what’s billed as the world’s smallest tomato growing in greenhouses.
“Treat them like nature’s Skittles,” Ray Wowryk, director of business development at NatureFresh Farms in Leamington, said Monday of the tiny tomatoes that could help the greenhouse cash in on the snacking trend.
NatureFresh Farms has reached an agreement with Eminent Seeds in the Netherlands to exclusively grow and market Tomberry tomatoes in Canada, the United States and Mexico. The Tomberry, a trademark name, is about the size of a blueberry or a little bigger than the fruit-flavoured Skittles candy. The Tomberry has been marketed in Europe for years as the world’s smallest tomato, although various seed companies are coming out with tiny tomatoes.
The Tomberry comes in red and yellow and are one centimetre or less in diameter and weigh about one or two grams. Eminent Seeds is based in the Netherlands and specializes in developing new vegetable varieties based on classic crosses and not by genetic modification.
“For the size it does deliver mega flavour,” Wowryk said.
NatureFresh Farms has about 130 acres of greenhouses. It has done some trials with the Tomberry but next year’s crop will be its first commercial crop. The seeds are on the way and the plants — if propagated before Christmas — could be producing the tiny tomatoes by April, he said.
While NatureFresh is more known for its pepper production, it is trying to get in on the snacking trend that can already be seen in greenhouse mini cucumbers. Eminent also has seeds for small peppers but NatureFresh Farms doesn’t have those.
“The snacking category is growing. The consumers nowadays are looking for unique, different ideas for snacking that they can experience. They’re willing to try more,” Wowryk said.
Consumers, especially Millennials, want foods that are quick and easy and retailers continue to look for ready-to-serve items, he said. Tomberry tomatoes are a healthy snack and are good for children’s lunches. He said the Tomberry should also appeal to people who have digestive issues from the acidity of eating larger tomatoes.
And you’re less likely to squirt tomato juice at a dinner party as you bite into one than the larger cherry tomatoes.
The Tomberry is good heated with garlic for pasta dishes and the colours and flavour of the Tomberry broadens its appeal in the culinary world beyond snacking, he said.
NatureFresh Farms hasn’t decided on the price and packaging. He said the flavour should entice consumers to pay a bit more for the snack-size tomatoes.
The Tomberry is not only the size of a blueberry, the tomatoes grow on plants that look more like shrubs than the traditional greenhouse tomato vines, he said.