Leak-free tomatoes take out AUSVEG award

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 4th June 2010

Intense Tomato from SP ExportsA new variety of tomato, the Intense Tomato from SP Exports, has received the AUSVEG Innovative Marketing Award for its ‘no more soggy sandwiches’ campaign.

The tomato lacks gel to hold water, keeping the juices trapped inside the tomato’s cells, preventing dripping or sogginess. In addition to being less messy, the tomatoes have a longer shelf life than a standard tomato. They also have more lycopene than normal tomatoes – an antioxidant which may contribute a variety of health benefits.

The gene for gel-less tomatoes was discovered in a small wild tomato by an italian breeder, Franco Vecchio. Cross-breeding with larger varieties produced the final Intense Tomato variety.

SP Exports Managing director Andrew Phillip told the ABC that it has been a busy six months since the launch of the new tomato.

“We can’t keep up with demand and actually as we speak we’re looking at our plans going forward and we’re talking to growers right around the country to complete the supply chain,” he said.

“At this stage … we’ve got nowhere near domestic demand covered and export demand is just there sitting, waiting for us.”

SP Imports, a Queensland-based family company, is the largest supplier of fresh tomatoes in Australia.

Mr Phillip said that the development of the tomato and the accompanying campaign has been a long but successful process.

“From our point of view, we had visions it could’ve been a mainstream product and that’s where we wanted to throw all guns at it and actually make it part of our business and here we are six months in and we’re looking down next year of it becoming 25 per cent of our business,” he said.

The tomatoes will be available to the food service industry and to consumers nationally through supermarkets.