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Prior to launching, demand for purple tomato already exceeds supply

Recently, Red Sun Farms launched a purple tomato that offers unique health benefits and is a plant-based bio engineered variety. What drove the company to bring this tomato variety to market? "We had been closely monitoring the approval process of the purple tomato by the FDA and were aware of the early testing of this item years ago here in Ontario when it was trialed as a potential juicing and processing tomato," says Harold Paivarinta, Senior Director of Sales with Red Sun Farms. Upon FDA approval, Nathan Pumplin – CEO at Norfolk Healthy Produce – approached the Red Sun Farms team with the opportunity of partnering up to produce the first high-tech commercial purple tomato. "We were captivated by its plant-based bioengineering and the enhanced health benefits it offered," Paivarinta shared.

Purple hue
The health benefits of this tomato variety can be attributed to high levels of Anthocyanins. "In addition, the distinctive purple hue is very visually striking." Despite this novel characteristic, the variety retains the classic flavor, texture, and consistency of a traditional greenhouse cherry tomato. "This remarkable trait is achieved by introducing two genes from the snapdragon flower to the tomato, allowing them to naturally ripen to a vibrant purple instead of the usual red," commented Paivarinta.

The variety was recently named Empress. "The name was carefully selected to encapsulate the essence of the variety." The rich, deep purple color exudes a regal aura, paying homage to the UK, where the trait was developed. "Combined with its exceptional health benefits, Empress is a premium offering within the category. For consumers seeking an extra dose of nutritional goodness in their foods, Empress tomatoes stand as a distinguished choice."

US permission
At this time, the Empress tomato is permitted to be grown and distributed in the US market. Red Sun Farms grows the variety in their greenhouses in Virginia. However, the Norfolk team is currently in the process of applying to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for approval to grow and market Empress in Canada. So far, the consumer response to Empress has been overwhelming. Since its debut at Southern Exposure a few weeks ago, this limited-edition crop has received no shortage of support from retail, specialty wholesale, and foodservice. "Once Canadian cultivation and sales will be granted, we expect the distribution of this item to explode," commented Paivarinta.

The first commercial harvest in Virginia will take place in mid-April and Red Sun Farms is hoping to produce well into November, based on how well the plants adapt to a high-tech environment. Before the first harvest rolls off the packing line, demand for Empress far exceeds supply. "This is no surprise given Norfolk's success in sales of purple tomato seed packs to backyard gardeners in the US where sales were suspended after four weeks, moving over 13,000 units." The Red Sun growing team is diligently managing the crop to maintain rolling availability with its retail partners, ensuring maximum accessibility for consumers.

For more information:
Harold Paivarinta
Red Sun Farms
Tel: 519.733.3663 ext. 226
[email protected]