Italy – Find the best tomatoes on your plate

It is well known that Emilia-Romagna is the region where Italian delicacies come from. Just think of Parmesan cheese, mortadella, lasagna, balsamic vinegar and of course Parma ham, but tomatoes are also a specialty. The Italian family business Mutti, among others, ensures that tomatoes are processed into passata, tomato pulp and other tomato products.

Parma is centrally located in the Food Valley and is a must-see when it comes to Italian food. You can be in Montechiarugolo in less than half an hour’s drive. The Italian company Mutti has its headquarters here between the tomato fields. Mutti has been around for 120 years and has a very good reputation when it comes to quality. In Italy tomatoes are not called ‘pomodoro’ or golden apples for nothing.

Mutti, led by Francesco Mutti, works together with about 400 tomato growers who have fields in all corners of the country. The only condition is that the fresh tomatoes do not travel too long distances, because the entire process from harvest to packaging must take place in less than 24 hours. The tomato plants grow here in the open ground and not as high as we do with the support of a stick or wire. The vegetable is also harvested only once a year to guarantee an ideal taste. Usually in September.

Once the ripe tomatoes have been harvested, they go to the factory. Just before the entrance, a sample is taken for each load. This sample must guarantee the quality. Among other things, color, taste, nutritional value, freshness, etc. are examined. Based on this, the final price will be determined and the driver will receive approval to unload his cargo.

The tomatoes are then sorted and selected. Unripe or crushed tomatoes are irrevocably removed, but do not end up in the bin. Biogas and animal feed are made from these tomatoes. The approved ones are then rinsed for the first time and then disappear into gigantic basins. Here they are washed again and finally sorted for the last time.

Now the real work can begin. The fresh tomatoes are processed into pulp via Mutti’s secret production process. After pasteurization and quality control, you finally get the finished product. The range is overwhelming: tomato pulp, of course, but also passata, tomato puree, tomato concentrate and even ketchup. Finally, cans, bottles and even tubes are filled and finally packed for transport.