Tomatoes – a global gift
As people are being urged to eat more fruit and vegetables, sales of tomatoes are increasing. Demand in Spain increased by a fifth in the early part of the Covid-19 pandemic, with more people buying tomatoes as they were forced to stay at home ¹.
Tomatoes are another global gift from the Americas. The Nahua people of Mexico were the first to name the nightshade relative tomato, which means ‘swelling fruit.’ Wild versions of the plant have pea-sized fruits. Breeding over the years have led to more than 10,000 cultivars in a wide range of sizes, colors and tastes.
The world produces 185 million tonnes of tomatoes a year, which is 70% more than in the year 2000 ². Yields have jumped by more than a third in that time, with production estimated to be nearly US$200 billion a year.
Growers of outdoor and indoor tomatoes are working hard to not only increase yields but use inputs including water, energy, fertilizers, soils or substrates, crop protection products and plastic more effectively. As an example, and they are not alone, British tomato growers have reduced energy use by a half since 1990, delivering cost savings alongside reducing carbon dioxide emissions ³. The adoption of LED lighting is allowing growers to maximise light for tomatoes, increasing yields and reducing environmental impact.
Tomatoes are regarded as a very good source of essential vitamins, with evidence that they can help regulate blood sugar, prevent heart disease and promote healthy skin. New research from the University of Sheffield in the UK found that lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes, improves male fertility.
Lycored is a company owned by ADAMA that has been extracting lycopene from tomatoes for more than 25 years. The Israeli company recently announced that it is to double its production of lycopene to expand its range of nutraceutical supplements and ingredients. The company has devised products that improve heart, skin and vision health, with special variations for women, men and sportspeople. Learn more at: https://www.lycored.com/
³ British Tomato Associationhttps://www.britishtomatoes.co.uk
5US Department of Agriculturehttps://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/tomatoes
Sources for visual assets: Washington Post
- A tomato plant at Disney’s Epcot park in Florida produces more than 32,000 tomatoes in one year and covers 56.73 metres sq4
- One medium tomato contains just 22 calories5