This document is a guide to the key quality criteria which should be observed when purchasing and supplying tomatoes and is the first in a series of fresh produce quality specifications that will be produced and published over the coming months.
Please be aware that these specifications only reflect what our inspectors and technical staff would consider to be well established industry standards, commonly held knowledge and our own expertise in having conducted thousands of food quality inspections over the past 20 years throughout the UK food industry. If we have made any direct reference to another source it will be referenced clearly within the text.
Size Requirements for Tomatoes
These fruit are typically supplied in grades which are fairly well recognised in the fruit trade, with the following sizes being the most usual:
Size MMM: 40mm – 47mm
Size MM: 47mm – 57mm
Size M: 57mm – 67mm
Common Pack Sizes
Tomatoes are usually distributed in open topped corrugated cardboard boxes of 6kg. They will often be further packaged for distribution within the UK depending upon the industry sector being supplied, often seen in 1kg bags or punnets. Cherry tomatoes are often seen in punnets of 250g, packed 12 to a box.
Common Quality Defects Found in Tomatoes
We break quality defects typically into major and minor categories, with no tolerance recommended for the former, and a small tolerance recommended in the latter. This tolerance would typically be in the region of 5% – 10% of a pack by either weight or count.
- Major Defects
- Mould / Rot / Breakdown affecting the fruit
- Pests or Insects other than an occasional single pest
- Disease / Fungal Growth
- Sizes outside of the stated grade (see above)
- Colour not meeting the specific ripeness requirements for the customer
- Surface Scarring or Russetting
- Minor cracks to the Surface
- Minor signs of age such as wrinkling and softening fruit
Distribution Temperatures for Tomatoes
Distribution temperatures for this product are usually between 12C – 15C It should be noted here, that in most mixed product distribution scenarios, Tomato along with most other fresh produce is grouped into the chilled storage and distribution network which would be expected to run below 6C.
Common Countries of Origin for Tomato
- The Netherlands
- The United Kingdom
- Canary Islands
This quality specification is a good starting point to setting out your quality requirements for tomatoes, but does not cover any of the food safety systems for production and handling, or any of the nutritional information which would be expected as part of a full technical specification. Feel free to contact us if you need more information.