Tomato sector upbeat on prospects despite challenges

British Tomato Growers' Association (BTGA) members are upbeat about the sector despite a challenging 2012, according to technical director Dr Philip Morley.

Yields last year were down by five-to-20 per cent due to poor light levels and UK production now makes up only 18 per cent of tomatoes sold at retail.

But Morley told Grower: "This will increase in the next two or three years. The tomato market is growing at two-to-three per cent a year anyway, so we have to run to stand still. Fortunately, a number of growers have built new glass or are planning to, either in order to expand or to replace existing facilities with something more modern and efficient."

He said the BTGA now has a key role in helping the industry move forward. "It's time to think about where we need to be in 10 years' time, as the technology moves away from fossil fuels towards other energy sources and we head towards a residue-free crop.

"We are evolving into a new organisation. Research and development is our future and the best way to deliver value to our members. My role is to communicate with funding bodies to make that happen. We are also getting more young people, which is fantastic as we need them to replace industry figures who are retiring."

A pest and disease day for tomato growers will be hosted by the Horticultural Development Company at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire on 17 January.

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