‘People are also shopping more locally and choosing grocers, where there are traditional heritage tomatoes’.
Tomato sales are booming in Britain and there are plans across the industry to produce more than half of what we consume by 2030.
The British Tomato Growers’ Association (BTGA), which makes up 90 per cent of large UK growers, said consumption is up by 12 per cent over the last 12 months.
Consumer insights specialists Kantar also reported tomato sales have considerably increased and said the trend has continued this year, with lunch the most likely meal to include the fruit.
In modern Britain we eat around 500,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes every year, and a fifth of those consumed are produced in the UK, the BTGA said.
Growers are planning to increase production over the next decade and hope to see half of the tomatoes eaten in Britain to be grown locally by 2030.
Julie Woolley, from the BTGA, said the push will benefit people’s meal times: “Growing tomatoes in Britain for British customers means they stay on the vine for longer, so when they reach your plate they’re bursting with flavour and the nutritional value is higher too. Minimising the time between picking and eating is key.
“It’s also good news for the environment as our growers are investing in better practices and technology to drastically reduce impact on the environment – from smart water recycling and LED lighting to renewable energy generation, natural predators to control pests and native UK bumblebees to pollinate the plants. Sustainability isn’t just important, it’s essential.”
A recent poll by the BTGA showed around three quarters of Britons are now more willing to pay more for tomatoes, though more than a third still keep their tomatoes in the fridge.
Chris White, who runs the fruit and veg website FruitNet, said: “We’re happy to pay more thanks to changing consumer tastes and new varieties being developed.
“These days, tomatoes generally taste better. Tomatoes on the vine are proving very popular, with a more complex flavour profile.
“People are also shopping more locally and choosing grocers, where there are traditional heritage tomatoes.
“I’ve led a personal campaign to stop people from putting their tomatoes in the fridge. That’s still a problem – they are best left on the side. Fresh tomatoes don’t go off quickly.”