Research and Development Priorities
British Tomato Growers need high quality pure and applied research to help them to;
sustain and improve the profitability and competitiveness of their businesses
optimise inputs, improve quality and yields and reduce waste
continue development & adoption of environmentally sensitive and sustainable systems
differentiate the premium quality of British products for customers and consumers
meet and where possible exceed statutory and customer expectations in every respect
Effective research and knowledge exchange will enable the UK industry to remain at the forefront of global advances in the technologies and practises to ensure sustainability and expansion of British Tomato production. They aim to stay one step ahead of current issues and improve the sustainability of every operation they carry out whether in production, packing, sales or marketing.
The British Tomato Growers Association (BTGA), representing over 90% of the British Tomato industry (approximately 180ha), principally needs to see solutions to the practical problems shared by all growers, using technology which is understood by and acceptable to consumers. The BTGA also encourage novel and speculative research which will drive their long-term innovation agenda for UK food production. Such solutions include those to the current problems whether in terms of pest and disease, energy, water, environmental sustainability, equipment, labour, economic and any other of a number of issues which have been, are and will continue to be faced in the future.
The production and food distribution process requires ongoing development and implementation of best practice from currently available technology and the incorporation of knowledge provided by novel research that has been directed by the requirements of the industry. The Association consider it is critical to be involved with and help direct research at all levels to ensure outcomes have a direct practical application. The BTGA are keen to engage, partner and participate with research funding bodies to get best outcomes from all research work. Effective knowledge exchange with the Tomato and wider protected crops industry is also essential. Moreover, the BTGA also wish to encourage young entrants into Tomato production to help assure the sustainability and ongoing vibrancy of this innovative and important industry.
The current strategy has been developed by the BTGA technical committee consisting of growers, industry experts, consultants, researchers and funding representatives. It is thus believed that the document is an authoritative and well-considered text which is commended to members and the research community at large in the hope that these ideas will stimulate a dialogue between; funding organisations, service providers and the grower community in the UK, to ensure a successful and sustainable future for British based tomato production.
To illustrate the industry needs, the tomato production cycle has been used as a base, with R&D and knowledge transfer requirements highlighted in each phase through production to postharvest. Targets and timeframes have been set; strategies that will help deliver these have been suggested. The BTGA would like to request that stakeholders consult with the technical committee (via their Technical Officer, Dr Phil Morley) prior to considering addressing any of the issues presented in this document.
The BTGA top priorities for 2020-21 are:
To improve profitability by increased production efficiency through better use of resources
Maintain and develop preferred supplier status with customers through differentiation of Premium British quality
To reduce losses caused by pest and diseases using ICM techniques and without recourse to Plant Protection Products wherever possible
Continue to develop more environmentally sensitive and sustainable systems
Develop automation and sensing technology in protected crop scenarios
Did You Know?
British tomato production amounts to about 65,000 metric tonnes per year (approximately 2 billion tomatoes!)- about a fifth of the total volume of tomatoes sold in the country through the year, and up to a half in the summer.