There may be no such thing as a perfect tomato, but due to research by Amy Bowen and Dave Liscombe at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, growers are one step closer to producing great ones.
In 2012, the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers put out a list of research priorities, and one of those priorities was to improve or differentiate flavor in tomatoes. The focus was on tomatoes on the vine, the ones consumers can buy in clusters Liscombe says.
The team received a grant for the project from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and got started in the spring of 2013. The goal was to discover what consumers wanted in a tomato, and provide growers with tomatoes that have the right mix of naturally occurring chemical profile to grow.
Finding a tastier tomato
'What we want to do is understand what is it that makes one tomato more flavorful than another tomato for the consumer?' Bowen, who headed the flavor side of the research, says. 'Then this information is being connected with our biochemistry group, which is where Dave Liscombe comes into play. He's looking at the biochemistry of the tomatoes and how their chemistry relates to different flavors that are perceived by the consumer.'
To discover what consumers were looking for, Bowen and her team including Vineland's sensory panel of 15 people (all of whom had no ties to the food industry and were selected based on