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Tomatoes in the UK (infographic)

19 May, 2014

Infographic with facts and figures about tomatoes in the UK

Click on the image to enlarge it

Today is the first day of the British tomato week (19-25 May 2014) and we publish a related research and infographic.

We examine history, nutrition, imports, production and waste of tomatoes in the UK.

First things first; many people perhaps associate tomatoes with the Mediterranean diet, Italy, Spain or Greece but the fact is that tomatoes were not known in Europe until the 16th century. They originate from the Andes (South America). In the UK they were first commercially cultivated in the 19th century (Kent and Essex).

Tomatoes consist mainly of water (that’s why it takes so much water to grow them): a 100g standard/classic tomato has 94.6g of water. It also consists of carbohydrates (3g), protein (0.5g) and fat (0.1g). Cherry tomatoes have less water (91.4g) and more carbohydrates (3.6g; that’s why they taste sweeter), protein (1.1g) and fat (0.5g).

Production wise (2012 data), China is the leader with about one third (1/3) of the world’s production being grown there; that’s about 50,000 thousand tonnes. India follows with 17,500 thousand and USA comes third (13,207 thousand). Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Italy, Spain, Brazil and Mexico complete the top 10. UK ranks 79th with 84 thousand tonnes. This is not enough to cover the demand (it’s actually less than 20% of the total supply) so the UK imports more than 400 thousand tonnes of tomatoes per year.

Top origin country of the imported tomatoes is the Netherlands (more than a third of the total imports), followed by Spain (about a third) and Morocco. During our field research at supermarkets/grocers in London (February – May 2014) we also found tomatoes produced in Senegal (baby plum tomatoes), Italy, Portugal, Poland and Israel.

Packaging of tomatoes

In many cases, the name of the grower is present on the packaging of tomatoes

Generally speaking most FMCG producers remain anonymous or they are known by their brand names. In that respect it is worth mentioning that in many cases we found on the packaging of tomatoes not only the country of produce but the name of the grower too. And we are talking about real people with a passion for growing tomatoes. Examples, from the UK growers, include:
Brian Moralee (Isle of Wight), Andy Roe (Lancashire), R. Lewis (Cambridgeshire), N. Bartle (Tees Valley), Chris Wall (Sussex), R. Holt (Worcestershire), P. Robinson (Cheshire), Peter Bell (Essex) and Mike Flux (Kent).

On the infographic there is a UK map with some of the British tomato growers. It shows their geographical location and the area (in hectares) they grow tomatoes on.

A report by Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) published in November 2013 estimated the amount of tomato waste in the UK to 49 thousand tonnes a year (for 2012). That’s more than 10% of the total supply (more than 1 out of 10 tomatoes ended up in the bin). Though significantly reduced from 2007 equivalent waste, the 2012 tomato waste was greater than half the amount of the UK production in the same year.

Tomato Growers’ Association Facts
GOV.UK – Department of Health Nutrient Analysis of Fruit and Vegetables
HM Revenue & Customs Statistics
GOV.UK – Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Basic Horticultural Statistics 2013
WRAP UK Household food and drink waste in the UK 2012
Eric Wall Ltd Welcome to Eric Wall Ltd
Robinson’s Nurseries Robinson’s Nurseries Website – Tomatoes
Tanfield Food Company Ltd Look What We Found website: Our Farmers – Nigel Bartle
Glinwell PLC Glinwell PLC Website | Our Nurseries
APS Salads APS Salads Website – Home page APS Salads augments southern supplies with purchase of second nursery in Kent (26 Aug 2011)
Guy and Wright Guy and Wright Website – Map
British Sugar PLC Products and Services
Thanet Earth Thanet Earth Website – About Us
Wight Salads Group Facts & Figures

If you found this post interesting, why not have a look at our posts about:
We Are What We Eat: an infographic
Potatoes in the UK
Carrots in the UK
Know your onions: an infograph
6 Comments leave one →
  1. 14 July, 2014 8:18 pm

    Love Mike Flux Tomatoes thank you. British is best.

    • Tomato Fan permalink
      8 August, 2014 8:06 pm

      100% agreed – these tomatoes are THE best from the Every Little Helps shop

  2. Jan Gillett permalink
    1 June, 2016 1:19 pm

    I just wanted Mike Flux to know that his tomatoes are the best I’ve tasted in the last 50 years. So glad his name was on the pack so that I could let him know how much I appreciate his product. I wish him continued success.


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