Tomato Facts

  • Fruit or vegetable? Whether the tomato is a fruit or a vegetable has triggered a surprising amount of debate. This has not been entirely academic and in 1887 made its way to the US Supreme Court in Nix v Hedden. The real issues were trade and commercial interests. If tomatoes were deemed to be vegetables, they could be taxed when imported, under the Tariff Act of 1883, thus providing protection for American tomato growers. The Court’s botanical knowledge was sound. Tomatoes are specialised reproductive structures that contain seeds, in other words, they are fruits. It chose pragmatism over botanical truth, however, and ruled in favour of American farmers.

'Botanically speaking tomatoes are the fruit of the vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans and peas. But in the common language of the people, all these are vegetables, which are grown in kitchen gardens and are usually served at dinner in, with or after the soup, fish or meats and not, like fruits generally, as dessert'.

  • On average each person working in the industry is producing three times more tomatoes per hour than 25 years ago.
  • The largest UK tomato glasshouse covers 26.5 acres, but is currently being extended to 44.5 acres, or 18 hectares. That’s the size of 25 international football pitches.

Fact 12

Did You Know?

2.5 million British native bumblebees pollinate all the tomato crops in the UK. That’s 24 billion wing beats per minute in British tomato greenhouses.

Phil Pearson

Meet the grower

Phil Pearson

Phil is the Group Development Director of APS Produce Ltd and Chair of the British Tomato Growe…

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