22 April 2024

From niche to normal: the rise of snack-sized tomatoes

Snack-sized tomatoes are conquering markets and hearts of consumers worldwide. In this article Arushi Badola, Global Crop Manager at BASF, discusses what this means for everyone involved in the breeding of tomatoes and the creation of new tomato varieties. 

In the past year, the tomato market has witnessed a fascinating shift: the rise of the snack-sized tomato. Be it on the plate of your fine-dining restaurant or in the bowl of your on-the-go salad from the supermarket: Mini tomatoes such as cherry or cocktail have come out of their niche. They have conquered a significant part of the tomato market, reflecting consumer preferences for convenience, intense flavor and healthy, fresh cuisine. As a breeding company we are at the forefront of a revolution that is also reshaping our breeding strategies.

What does this “mini revolution” really mean for us, the architects of today’s and tomorrow’s tomatoes? First of all, this evolution is a reminder that our breeding objectives must align with consumer demands. As preferences evolve, so too must our crops. This shift reflects modern eating habits and the trend towards more sustainability as people want to shop for vegetables that can stay fresh longer. And that is our cue to innovate and respond with varieties that cater to on-the-go snacking, without sacrificing the rich flavors and textures that consumers love.

Arushi Badola
Arushi Badola
Global Crop Manager Tomato Fresh
The trend towards smaller, snack-sized tomatoes represents a significant opportunity

Arushi Badola

Global Crop Manager Tomato Fresh

While doing so, we must ensure that these varieties do not compromise on traits that are important for growers, such as yield, shelf-life, productivity and disease resistance. This delicate balancing act between consumer appeal and agricultural viability is what makes breeding both a challenge and an exhilaration. Snack-sized tomatoes are high-value crops – and thus give a higher return on investment for the grower. This is one of the reasons why we see a shift in growers choosing more snack types other than clear increased demand from the market.

At BASF, we are constantly updating our portfolio with innovations that have it all: take Vitalion, our new tasty cherry tomato that comes with resistance against the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV) or Daivion that is a cherry round with ToBRFV resistant for mid-tech cultivation targeting high yield with short internodes to save labor. 

In summary, the trend towards smaller, snack-sized tomatoes represents a significant opportunity for breeding companies like us to innovate, differentiate, and expand our market presence while growers are enabled to meet consumer preferences with higher productivity and sustainability. 

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