Commodity: Organic Tomatoes
Organic tomato sales continue to rise. They made up 5% of total tomato sales in 2015, and sales grew by more than 20% in 2016. Organic tomatoes are a category on the rise and worth investing time and energy in promoting.
For more information on variety characteristics, visit our conventional tomatoes page.
Organic tomatoes offer plenty of opportunity for consumers to try them out. A staple in most households, tomatoes lend themselves to a variety of promotions. Include organic tomatoes in football game-day promotions, Cinco de Mayo sales and during the summer months as a quick, healthy addition to a BLT sandwich.
Organic tomatoes carry a higher price point than conventional product, so be sure to tell consumers why they cost extra. Include signs that explain the extra handling and labor that go into selling organically grown tomatoes. Consider sourcing some locally grown product during the summer and having the grower come in and talk to consumers about organic growing practices.
Offer consumers a variety of organic options in your display. Include beefsteak, roma, grape and cherry varieties. Heirloom tomatoes are popular with organic consumers, so consider adding some locally grown heirloom varieties when they are in season.
Consider creating a display of organic salad vegetables with tomatoes as a colorful centerpiece. Pair organic tomatoes with organic avocados and lemons for a great color contrast and to encourage consumers to make homemade guacamole.
Like conventional tomatoes, display organic tomatoes on an unrefrigerated table. Don’t dump or stack tomatoes on the display as they can bruise from the added weight.
In The Backroom
Organic tomatoes are available in 6x6 two-layer trays and 6x6 and 7x7 three-layer trays. Organic cherry tomatoes are available in 12, 1-pint clamshells. On-the-vine tomatoes are often available in 11-pound and 15-pound cartons. Hot house tomatoes are often available in 15- and 20-pound cartons.
U.S. No. 1
U.S. No. 2
U.S. No. 3
U.S. No. 1
U.S. No. 2
• Temperature: mature-green or pink, 62 to 68 F, 16.7 to 20 C
• Relative humidity: 85-88%
• Mist: no
• Typical shelf life: mature-green 21 to 28 days; pink, 7 to 14 days
• Do not refrigerate
• Highly sensitive to freezing injury. (Likely to suffer injury by one light freezing.)
• Susceptible to chilling injury (Damage sometimes is not apparent until produce is returned to a higher temperature. At temperatures below 55 F, 13 C, tomatoes are subject to chill injury and lose flavor quickly.)
• Never stack more than two layers high, and keep product stem up to protect tomato shoulders.
• Because most tomatoes are picked mature but not totally ripe, they will continue ripening in transit. Tomatoes produce ethylene, a hormone that stimulates ripening. If tomatoes have not reached the appropriate color by the time they reach the local distribution center, their ripening process will be speeded up.
• Ethylene treatment applied at shipping point starts the ripening process and assures more uniformly ripe fruit upon arrival at the destination point and shortens the period between harvest and display, therefore maintaining a higher degree of vitamin C.
• When stacking containers in the back room, make sure to stack organic items at the top so residue from conventional produce doesn’t drip down onto the organic items.
• Organic items can be stored side by side in the cooler as long as no product is touching and no residue can drip from the conventional onto the organic product.