Article by: Hari Yellina
It can take up to ten years from breeding to marketing a new tomato variety. The cultivar, however, debuts in stores this week after Nature Fresh Farms made contact with a new seed supplier in the Netherlands a few years ago. According to Matt Quiring, SVP of Sales and Marketing at Nature Fresh Farms, “We visit the Netherlands twice a year in search of varietals with a distinctive, different flavour.” We sample close to 1,000 different tomatoes in a week during our visits. We had a totally different experience from anything else we had tasted when we tried the Kazuti variety, said Quiring. It’s a gem in the rough, as they say.
From that point on, the business began collaborating with HW Seeds, a little-known seed business that has only been operating for a few years. “We discovered a partner in them who shared our values, and our close collaboration has helped the partnership advance. With regard to plant type, habitat, yield, disease package, and flavour, Kazuti provided us with the full package during our trials in our greenhouses in Ontario, according to Quiring. “You are lucky to find one or two kinds that are a success, and that’s what we found in Kazuti,” said the researcher, “with roughly 300 varieties being trialled annually.” Three years after their initial meeting with HW Seeds, the firm created a branding concept, and now the variety is prepared for release.
The Kazuti cultivar is known by Nature Fresh Farms as their Hiiros Tomato, which translates to “Scarlet Red” in Japanese. The variety was originally developed for the Japanese market, which favours foods with a lot of umami. “Exactly what sets this type apart from others is its delicious flavour. It deepens and clarifies the flavour, according to Quiring. Hiiros’ extremely deep red colour and distinct, powerful green sections are likely to have a significant impact on viewers. It also has a pleasant sharpness that brings the umami flavour to life. “We are quite excited for the arrival of this snacking tomato,” says the author, “especially because umami is one of the top food trends of 2022.” In North America, a few national and regional merchants will carry Hiiros.
To cultivate and commercialise this variety in North America, Nature Fresh Farms has a prefered collaboration with HW Seeds. For the time being, only our greenhouses in Ontario will be used to raise hiiros, said Quiring. In the foreseeable future, the business plans to increase production at its Ohio greenhouses. “We are particularly emphasising our high flavour on the vine tomatoes to be cultivated within Canada and the US for the consumers in those countries. Our primary marketplaces are not far from these greenhouses. This enables us to ensure the high calibre consumers can anticipate from our premium Black Label range.
HW Seeds develops cultivars for specialised markets while breeding for the premium tomato market. The company mostly breeds cherry on the vine, grape, and cocktail tomatoes as a consequence. According to Roel Huisman of HW Seeds, “Kazuti was developed for a Japanese customer, and the flavour experience is significantly distinct as the Japanese consumer prefers to taste sour first, followed by a sweet flavour that needs to dominate.” It is a distinct flavour experience that has never been made available in North America.
The organisation helps its customers every step of the way, from conducting trials to commercialising a variety. “However, a tomato’s flavour ultimately depends on the grower’s ability to convey it. Hiiros’ flavour is a huge compliment to Nature Fresh Farms since it demonstrates that they know how to grow this type, according to Huisman. The recent victory by Nature Fresh Farms with Black Label Hiiros at the yearly Leamington Greenhouse Competition makes him quite happy. “They won the Best Specialty Tomato and Best Overall Tomato awards, which is fantastic news for us as well.”