The award winning tom’s name is intriguing to say the least and may conjure up all sorts of thoughts, but it is all about sales.
“Strawberry tomato is the marketing name we chose for it,” says Lex Dillon, managing director of Underglass Bombay and Karaka, NZ Hothouse’s growing operation.
“We’ve been working on the strawberry tom for the past three to four years. It is a hybrid tomato and has a different texture to that of the normal cherry tomato. It is sweeter too,” says Mr Dillon.
While the strawberry tom might be shaped slightly like a strawberry it does not look or taste like its namesake. It is one of many varieties of tomatoes grown in the 20 ha of glass houses NZ Hothouse has in Franklin.
The company has been growing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of tomatoes and cucumbers for the past 30 years. They grow for both the domestic market and the Pacific Rim nations.
Their produce is grown year round and can be bought in all good supermarkets.
Mr Dillon says the demand for different types of tomatoes, as compared to the usual round red tomato, is considerable and growing all the time. Each tomato variety the company grows has its own typical texture and taste.
NZ Hothouse not only grows red tomatoes but also orange and yellow varieties and constantly adds new varieties.
Organisers of the awards encouraged NZ Hothouse to enter their strawberry tom in the NZ Food Awards. “They said our strawberry tom was perfect for their award,” Mr Dillon says.
In their category, NZ Hothouse was up against slow cooked Hereford beef, apple slices and vitamin D mushrooms.
This year the full range of food awards had 47 products developed by 39 primary food producers, food service providers and ingredient supply companies.
Mr Dillon says winning the award is recognition for the efforts of his entire team, from the marketing and sales people to the people in the greenhouses growing and nurturing the plants.
“We had a celebration the other day for everyone involved. It was great for them to see such a result for their daily efforts.”
Photo: Lex Dillon with samples of NZ Hothouse’s award winning strawberry tomato.