Several Ontario greenhouses are shifting some of their acres from beefsteak tomatoes or bell peppers to specialty tomatoes to capitalize on snacking trends and the efforts of chefs and at-home cooks to incorporate interesting looking and tasting produce into recipes, Gilvesy said.
Mucci Farms, DiCiocco Farms and Mor Gro Farms Inc., Leamington, all have increased specialty tomato acres for 2014.
At DiCiocco, cherry tomatoes have more room to grow this season based on demand from retailers, said Anthony Butiniello, marketer and salesman.
DiCiocco had about 12 rows of the cherry tomatoes for the 2013 season, expanding that to 1.5 acres for 2014, Butiniello said.
“Containing roughly 10-14 tomatoes per vine, this cherry tomato has been a hit with many of our customers, and hopefully it will be a stepping stone in furthering our business across Canada and the U.S.,” Butiniello said.
Tiny tomatoes are also a growth area for Mor Gro.
“We consistently sold out of our Smarty-brand, three-color grape tomato mix,” said Tom Trojniak, marketing, production and warehouse manager for Mor Gro.
“The red tomatoes in there were amazing. We are also seeing a huge demand for heirlooms, and we’ve added a brown tomato that we plan to name at a later date.”
A medley pack of bite-sized tomatoes from Mucci Farms that includes red, yellow, purple, zebra and baby pink varieties is set to hit retailers this season, Spano said.
Mucci’s Vero tomatoes on the vine are also making a big impression in the specialty tomato arena.
“One of our retailers is actually rearranging their tomatoes on the vine display areas to give us more room,” Spano said.
He said Vero tomatoes on the vine are a little smaller than many varieties.
“They have a big flavor profile, though. Their jelly is more vibrant and it reminds you of the flavors of home-grown tomatoes,” he said.