Introduced to the commercial world in the 1990s, the grape tomato has become one of the sweethearts of the tomato business. It was introduced in upscale markets and soon consumers found the higher sugar content than regular tomatoes and the smaller, bite-size shape to their liking.
“The grape tomato is our biggest seller,” says Tony Smith, merchandising manager at Harveys Supermarket, a Nashville, GA- based chain with 73 stores. “We often have them on ad because of their popularity. The tomatoes on the vine and hot house tomatoes are popular, but the grape tomato is still the best-seller for us. We put them in rows among the salad items for a color break. Our supplier is offering yellow grape tomatoes, so we’re going to give them a try.”
“With their increased popularity, the grape tomatoes have become a commodity for sure,” notes Rick Feighery, vice president of sales, for Procacci Brothers Sales Corp., headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. “The Santa Sweet variety we handle exclusively has had a lot to do with the growth in popularity. We now have a golden grape tomato and feel that there is still room to expand the grape tomato usage.”
Mastronardi Produce Ltd, based in Kingsville, Ontario, Canada, has two hot items right now: Zima (an orange grape tomato) and the Angel Sweet (a red grape tomato). The varieties, such as the Zima and Angel Sweet, are branded to have a fun, colorful look and unique pack formats. JemD Farms, located in Leamington, Ontario, Canada, offers the Scarlet Pearl, a sweet grape tomato, in it Artisan Series of products.
Grape tomato usage seems limitless and consumers can find many recipe ideas on the Internet and in the media. Woman’s Day magazine wrote an article on “Ten Recipes for Using Grape Tomatoes.” The Food Network featured roasted and sweet roasted recipes for grape tomatoes, as well as a recipe for sautéed grape tomatoes. Another website promotes a compilation of 232 grape tomato appetizer recipes.
Nutritionally, each grape tomato contains one calorie, no fat, cholesterol or sodium. It supplies two percent of the daily vitamin C requirement and 19 milligrams of potassium. Including this information and/or easy recipes for the grape tomato at point-of-sale suggests new ways to increase sales.