The Co-operative Group said it plans to offer fewer tomato varieties and tighten the specifications given to suppliers.
“Customers are becoming more and more discerning,” said salad buyer Carla Fletcher. “Benchmarking tomatoes from all retailers has highlighted there is a huge difference in flavour profiles, particularly among the vine varieties. Shoppers may enjoy the taste one week and be disappointed the next. We want to guarantee the best flavoured varieties are available every time.”
The Co-op will launch English-grown Piccolo tomatoes on the vine at the end of April, priced at £1.75 per 300g punnet. Piccolo is grown year-round for The Co-op in the UK and Italy by Evesham Vale Growers. The English season lasts from April until October, and half EVG’s 32 acres of UK glass are committed to the variety.
“While a smaller tomato, Piccolo has a rich, distinctive taste when compared with standard cherry tomatoes,” said EVG’s David Shepherd. “Premium tomatoes are seeing massive growth. However, while all the best-tasting types yield lower than standard counterparts, the consumer is willing to pay a premium.”