by Mara Vigevani
Cherry tomatoes, purple tomatoes, red eggplants, purple potatoes, and from this week two new tomatoes – the Bon Bon Tomato, the world’s sweetest tomato and the Tipa Tomato, the world’s smallest – will hit Israeli supermarket shelves.
The new tomato plants are the creation of Ariel Kitron, Dubi Dagay, and David Mizrahi, three farmers from Moshav Idan in the Arava who in 2015 founded Kedem, an agri-tech company, with the goal of developing innovative fruits and vegetables.
“We missed the sweet taste that tomatoes once had, the taste of our childhood. That is why we decided that our goal is to create the world’s sweetest tomato,” Dagay told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) while discussing the Bon Bon tomato.
Dagay said the Bon Bon looks the same as a regular tomato, but has high quality both in taste and shelf life. “We have achieved a sweet and unique taste with a different aroma than the standard tomato, using the world’s leading technology and unique greenhouse growing that achieve a sweetness that is 30% higher than any other tomato in the market,” Dagay said.
Kitron, Dagay, and Mizrahi worked for three years – a period considered a short time in developing new products – with researchers from the Central-and Northern-Arava Research and Development Institute on the new species.
“We mapped both the Israeli and global markets and found that there is a demand for a new and unique variety of a particularly small tomato suitable for finger foods and salads that don’t need to be sliced,” Dagay said of the Tipa tomato, which is smaller than a shekel coin and has already attracted interest from leading chefs around the world.
“At this stage, we are growing the little tomato in red and yellow, we will consider expanding to additional colors according to demand,” Dagay said.
According to Dr. Yonatan Elkind, an expert in genetic engineering to plant breeding and physiology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel remains a leader in agricultural innovation, but international competition is much tougher than before.
“The cultivation of new kinds of seeds is a very long process which can take six to eight years, but the demand is very high. It is very similar to the fashion market; every season you need to change the collection,” Elkind said.