‘Intense tomatoes’ to be harvested

Breed that keeps shape, doesn't leak coming soon.

The first crop of locally grown non-leaking tomatoes are to be harvested about a month from now, Rami Trabelsi, a farmer from Moshav Tekuma in the Western Negev, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
According to Trabelsi, the tomatoes, which were selectively bred to hold their juice and shape, have proven to be a hit in other countries and will be coming soon to Israeli supermarkets.
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“The seeds come from Holland, but we grow the tomatoes in our greenhouses here on the moshav,” said Avishai Trabelsi, Rami’s son and director of business development at RT Fresh. “We plan to distribute the tomatoes to clients in Israel as well as export them to Europe and Russia..”
According to Trabelsi, what’s special about the new breed of tomatoes, known abroad as “intense tomatoes,” is that they contain less liquid than regular tomatoes.
“What this means is that they have a longer shelf life, they slice and dice easily and leave much less of a mess. While other tomatoes are squishy and leak, intense tomatoes are much firmer. You can put them in a sandwich and not have to worry about it getting soggy in the middle, you can cut them into a salad and not have it come out all wet.”
Trabelsi recently joined the family business to help in the branding and marketing of the company. A former model, who is currently working on a degree in business management, he knows the value of a good image and plans to market RT Fresh as a provider of wholesome produce.
“My father is a farmer, he’s been working in the fields and greenhouses for decades. He doesn’t really understand what we need branding and marketing for. That’s why I’m in the picture,” he said.
The Trabelsis own the exclusive rights to grow and market intense tomato crops in Israel, but due to the high demand for their export, they have subleased the rights to other farmers in the region.
“We personally know the growers and can guarantee the quality of the products,” said Trabelsi. “We use the minimum possible amount of pesticides and all of our tomatoes meet the Global Gap [good agricultural practice] standard.”
One of the main markets for the intense tomatoes is the pre-made sandwiches sector. Trabelsi said that the intense tomatoes were particularly suited to sandwich preparation because they remained fresh and crisp for much longer than regular tomatoes.
“Other promising sectors are restaurants and catering companies. Because of the structure of the tomatoes they retain their shape for much longer and look great on the plate, both as ingredients and as garnishes,” said Trabelsi.
Trabelsi said that they have yet to price the tomatoes and are waiting to see the harvest’s yield before they do.
“They will be more expensive than regular tomatoes because we invest more in them. The plants are more expensive, the yields are lower and we have to return our investment in packaging and marketing,” he said.
“For the moment we have all the demand we can meet in Russia and Europe, but in the future I would like to see our products in North America, too.”