“We are introducing a new tomato product, a mid-size TOV,” says Len Krahn with SunSelect. “It’s a 100 gram TOV as opposed to a regular 150+ gram TOV. The difference between the two really is taste,” said Krahn. “It’s much sweeter and therefore, we named it Sweet Thing. We want people to understand that it’s sweet.” The new tomato variety has a minimum brix level of 5.8 and can go as high as 7. A regular TOV has a brix level of about 3.5. In addition, the smaller TOV has a deep internal red color while a regular TOV is more orange inside.
The flipside of packaged products
Consumers nowadays have many options when it comes to the tomato category. “Taste and package differentiate the new tomato product from other products in the market,” mentioned Krahn. SunSelect offers Sweet Thing in 1 lb. and 3 lb. clamshells with one pound typically being five tomatoes. “Packaging is what sets a company apart from competitors, but packaging also has a flipside,” shared Krahn. “If a consumer opens the package and has a negative eating experience, he/she won’t buy that package again. Packaging sells the first time, but if the product is disappointing, the consumer will remember.” Therefore, taste remains number one.
Different demographics for mid-size TOV
The market for mid-size TOVs is different from regular TOVs. A regular TOV is used in burgers and is more of a utility tomato. The mid-size TOV is more of a specialty tomato that is used for cooking and in salads.
Rijk Zwaan variety
Production of this smaller TOV started two weeks ago. The SENSERNO variety was developed by Rijk Zwaan. SunSelect tried one row last year and loved the taste as well as the color all the way through. “As the plant gets more mature, the tomatoes become deeper red,” said Krahn. Because of the successful trial, SunSelect decided to grow one acre this year, generating about 50,000 cases. Sweet Thing will be available 52 weeks per year and is grown in greenhouses in Tehachapi, California.
Sweet Thing as well as SunSelect’s other tomato, cucumber and bell pepper products are marketed under the Outrageously Fresh brand name.