This season's tomato pack has started for factories taking round tomatoes to pack chopped and recipe products: plum tomatoes will follow in the next week or so. The summer has already been too hot for comfort as far as tomatoes are concerned. They grow best in the range 27 C to 29 C, but tolerate the usual Italian summers. But this year has seen searing heat, with temperatures going over 40 C. The result is that although the fruit changes colour on the outside, a red fruit is not necessarily a ripe tomato. "This can cause problems with peeling them on the line or the flesh can be orange instead of red," explained a trader. Extreme heat can also cause blisters. This season's pack opens with substantial carryover stocks for some retail sizes of peeled plum, which should be identifiable through the LS year code for 1999. This year's pack will carry an LN code. A substantial volume of business has already been written for the UK and Germany by Wal-Mart, while the German retailer Metro also had its buyers out in the field this week. The arrival of Heinz as a major player in the coming season (see p52) sets the scene for another head to head with Mitsubishi, through Princes. {{PROVISIONS }}