British tomatoes are monopolising the shelves of Marks & Spencer because the store believes the fruit to be the best there is, according to its salad specialist Jim Monaghan.

Speaking at the Tomato Conference in Coventry, Monaghan explained why the retailer had finally begun putting Union Flags on its tomatoes.

Monaghan said: “M&S is proud to put British logos on its packaging. We want British consumers to be as excited about British tomatoes as they are about British strawberries.”

However, he was quick to stress that simply by being British, a tomato was not guaranteed to sell. He explained
that while customers were keen to support home-grown lines, ultimately they wanted the best-tasting food.

He added: “M&S wants to sell the best tomatoes from wherever we find them. In July 2003 we had 30 lines of tomatoes, and 23 were 100% British.

“So we passionately believe British is best for the customer.”

Looking at further ways to promote the fruit, Marks and Spencer is convinced that a wide variety of packaging will continue to help the different breeds appeal to assorted markets.

The chain is keeping future packaging innovations close to its chest, but promises it will continue to spearhead innovations in tomato packaging trail such as various new types of punnet and pre-printed flow-packs.

Stressing the importance of not just the look of the fruit but of the whole package, Monaghan said: “Appearance is key to getting the customer to pay extra money because you signal to the customer that it is a brighter, fruitier unit which is worth more money.”