Taste mission to boost sales of UK tomatoes

Gerry Andrew harvests Sunstream tomatoes at Stockbridge Technology Centre.
Gerry Andrew harvests Sunstream tomatoes at Stockbridge Technology Centre.
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Leading horticultural technology base, Stockbridge Technology Centre, has taken to market the first Yorkshire grown tomatoes of the year - produced using pioneering new growing methods.

Researchers at the facility in Selby have nurtured a variety of ‘midi plum’ tomatoes called Sunstream inside a glasshouse under energy efficient LED lights.

The innovative method is being used as part of a study to understand how crops can be grown in the UK for superior freshness and taste. Most tomatoes sold in the UK are currently imported from Spain and the Canary Islands.

But now, the first harvest of Sunstream tomatoes are being sold by independent food retailers as members of the East Yorkshire Local Food Network (EYLFN), and via Bradford-based Delifresh to the catering trade.

Nigel Bartle, chairman of the British Tomato Growers’ Association and EYLFN board member, said: “The first tomatoes from Stockbridge’s new research facility were harvested in time for Christmas and have been very well received due to their exceptional, just-picked taste. Sunstream is a lovely variety, with a deep red colour, but most importantly, that home grown flavour.”

Martin McPherson, science director at Stockbridge, added: “This is a great example of us carrying out world leading research and development, but giving everyone the chance to participate by using a local network of independent producers and caterers to deliver fresh, local food.”

The research centre is also looking at layers of crops that could be a model for urban farms of the future.