Branded tomato variety earns a following

12/11/2013 05:00:00 AM
Vicky Boyd


Marketing 101

click image to zoomTasti-Lee tomatoVicky BoydTasti-Lee can be left on the vine until deep red, yet the fruit remains firm. The variety was developed through conventional breeding.

250">Bejo has borrowed a page from the apple industry and its experiences with managed or “club” varieties.

Selected producers are recruited to grow Tasti-Lee, and the seed company has established quality and packing standards that growers must follow.

Five growers have been registered to produce the variety nationwide. Support growers can work with the registered growers to provide fruit, too.

In addition, participating growers have to agree to market all their fruit through Bejo Seeds and the arrangements it has with retailers.

The program is guided by a grower advisory committee that meets regularly, Styers says. Although some of the registered growers are marketplace competitors, he says he’s impressed about how they work together when the UF variety is involved.

Producing a branded variety may not be for every grower, but Martinez says he supports the program wholeheartedly, citing the doors it has opened. In fact, the UF variety is the only round tomato he grows now.

“Tasti Lee has given me the opportunity to talk to HEB with the help of Bejo,” Martinez says. “If I were selling regular tomatoes, I don’t think I’d have that opportunity.”

Read more about the Tasti-Lee.

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