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Hoping for regular season after false start for Monterosa in the Netherlands last year
The first season of Spanish Monterosa tomatoes marketed in the Netherlands was literally a washout. This year, Nico Veldhoen of Staay Food Group is hoping for a regular season, and the pink tomato will be on the market for the entire duration of the season for the first time ever in the Netherlands.
Last year, Staay Food Group introduced the exclusive tomato in cooperation with Gavà Grup from Spain in the Netherlands. “Last year was dramatic,” Nico remembers. “Before the rain, Monterosa did quite well, but because of the rain, many growers had to chop down their tomatoes. Many tomatoes weren’t good enough, and there was much less volume to distribute over the markets.” That dramatic year was also the introductory year of the Monterosa tomato in the Netherlands. A false start for the pink beefsteak tomato.
Essentially a different tomato
At the start of the season last year, Nico said: “We first saw this tomato at the Fruit Attraction in Madrid. We were very impressed by its pink colour and shape and we realised it was something different,and we became interested in Gavà Grup’s Monterosa project. This led to an exclusive agreement to market the product in the Netherlands.”
One employee of the Gavà Grup has been an acquaintance of Nico’s for years. “The owner isn’t just the grower, but also the marketer, so he knows how to market an exclusive tomato. The tomatoes have to be great, otherwise they won’t get sold.” These high requirements are what makes the tomato unique. “Their pink colour isn’t necessarily special, but they’re not widely available during the winter months. They’re large tomatoes, shaped like boats,” he says about the shape of the vegetable. “The flavour and bite of the tomato are essentially different from that of other beefsteak tomatoes.”
Poland major buyer
Growers in Almeria now have about 300 hectares of Monterosa tomatoes. In the Netherlands, Staay Food Group mostly focuses on catering and more luxurious street trading. Additionally, they also have volumes for supermarkets. “Via Staay-Van Rijn Venlo we sell quite a bit to catering, and via street trading we try to get into the better segment.” Good prices are paid for the tomato in that. The regular weekly market, on which price is most important, isn’t the tomato’s target audience.
“Supermarkets are also interested. There are always supermarkets that enjoy taking something new into their range, but because of the bad season last year, we can’t say much about the market yet.” Demand in the Netherlands is still in its infancy, but Monterosa has been integrated quite well in Eastern Europe in recent years. “It shouldn’t be underestimated how much the Polish buy and how many tomatoes they consume,” Nico says. And consumers in Poland are willing to pay for the pink tomato. Nico describes the price difference: “If a regular beefsteak tomato is €1.50 per kilo, Monterosa can be sold for €1.75 to €1.90 per kilo.”
In the Netherlands, Staay Food Group is the exclusive distributor of the tomatoes. “That’s not seen often anymore,” Nico concludes. Outside of the Spanish season, Monterosa is hardly or not at all available. “Some small licences were granted last year, to grow the tomatoes following on the Spanish season, but that’s not really happening yet in summer.”
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