Tomatoes on-the-vine, also known as cluster tomatoes, are not new to tomato consumers worldwide. They have been there since the first introduction of a cluster variety by Hazera Genetics in 1986 in Italy. This innovative product controlled the Italian tomato market for several years, and is still marketed in some part of Europe, mainly for the hobby sector. However, until recently tomatoes on-the-vine were niche products, consumed only by a very small portion of the population that was willing to pay its price. Nevertheless, the improved flavor of cluster tomatoes and the sense of freshness that is associated with the aroma of the green spine, gradually gained them market share. Farmers also came to like on-the-vine tomatoes since the amount of labor required for their production is much lower compared to other crops and the price is usually higher. At present, about 50% of fresh tomatoes consumed in Europe are purchased on-the-vine. Other markets for on-the-vine tomatoes include USA, Australia, Canada and more.
Cluster tomatoes are produced in southern Europe mainly in the winter and in glasshouses in northern Europe in the summer. Recently, the production of tomatoes on-the-vine spread to Turkey and North Africa for consumption in Europe, and to Mexico for consumption in USA. As mentioned, Hazera Genetics was the first seed company to launch a cluster tomato variety in Italy over 20 years ago, and is since continuing to develop cluster tomato varieties for production in Spain, Italy, Turkey, France and Israel. This project is carried out by a team of researchers from Hazera Genetics and in part is done in collaboration with researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Antonella tomato is one of the varieties derived from the abovementioned collaboration. It was developed for the Italian market and tested in all on-the-vine producing areas. Antonalla has a medium size fruit with excellent quality and a very elegant fishbone like cluster arrangement. The fruit has a very shiny red color and extremely long shelf life. In addition, Antonella tomato has a very good heat setting ability that makes it a perfect candidate for production in hot conditions, such as the Israeli summer. When all other tomato varieties yield low quality, soft and pale fruit, Antonella fruits have excellent color and firmness. And they can maintain this high quality at room temperature for up to one week post harvest. In the past summer season, about 100 hectares of Antonalla were produced in southern Israel.
To promote Antonella tomato among Israeli consumers who are not used to buying tomatoes on-the-vine, Hazera Genetics has joined one of Israel’s leading retailers in a joint launching effort. The variety was promoted and sold under Hazera’s Antonella brand. All products were clearly marked with the Antonella logo and offered to consumers in stores in most regions of Israel during the summer- autumn months (August- September). Due to the successful launch Antonella tomato will expected to triple its market share in the next production season.