British crops excel in bioactive compounds

Tomatoes are high in bioactive compounds and British-grown crops excel in this regard, consultant and British Tomato Growers Association co-founder Gerry Hayman told the conference.

Hayman led a Horticultural Development Company-funded study in 1999 into levels of the antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes, while another study last year looked at a range of bioactive chemicals in UK-grown and imported tomatoes.

"We have a good news story - tomatoes have as wide a range of health-promoting nutrients as any fruit or vegetable," he said. "The optimum temperature for lycopene production is 21-23 degsC, which is what we have in our glasshouses here."

"Smaller-fruited types have higher nutrient levels, taste better, children prefer them and they are a UK speciality. How you turn this good news into money is up to you guys."

But Melrow Salads consultant Bernard Sparkes said: "Labelling regulations make it almost impossible to say anything on the pack."

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