Tomatoes - history, production, trade
It is very difficult to imagine a world without tomatoes. Tomatoes (Lycopersicon Esculentum) appear in many dishes of our traditional national cuisine. It is a member of the Solanaceae family, native to South America, and particularly to the Andes, a land belt that goes from the North of Chile to the South of Ecuador.
The Spanish Conquistadores firstly discovered the tomato in the first half of the XVI century, when after landing in America, they bumped into this wonderful red fruit. In spite of the fact that in the New World the tomato was already part of native Aztecs’ daily diet, the vegetable, nowadays symbol of the Mediterranean cuisine, was carried back to Europe only for ornamental purposes, as it was thought that its fruits were inedible.
The production and processing of tomatoes, the import and export of tomatoes, the trade of tomatoes and all the other situations connected to the processing of tomatoes, such as retailers and wholesalers of tomatoes, importers of tomatoes and also exporters of tomatoes in our database and on our sites (zipmec.eu, zipmec.com and mecortofrutticolo.eu), were still far away from reaching present dimensions. In fact, at the beginning of 1600, after almost one century since his discovering, the tomato was not yet recognized as an edible vegetable, because it was considered poisonous like other plants of the Solanaceae family, such as the mandrake and the deadly nightshade. Italy was the only exception: already in the middle of the fifteenth century, tomatoes were consumed raw, fried in oil and salt, or also in soups.
While in France tomatoes were consumed by the royal court, in the South of Italy it became the main food of the poor population and of workers, announcing an important sector for producers of tomatoes and for farms connected to the processing of tomatoes.
Only at the end of the eighteenth century the production of tomatoes had a great impulse. An intensive and systematic production of tomatoes, pulled by the demand, allowed a remarkable growth in the number of farms, such as retailers of tomatoes, exporters and importers of tomatoes, but also of farms that were involved in the processing and in the wholesaling of tomatoes.
The first technique of tomatoes’ processing goes back to the early years of the eighteenth century, while the preservation of tomatoes in glass pots previously boiled was discovered in 1762.
The processing of tomatoes for the consumption spread all over the most temperate European regions, such as the South of France, Spain, the South of Italy and Sicily, whence tomatoes reached the Northern markets, allowing the growth of farms there involved in exportations, trading and retailing of tomatoes.
Starting from the mid-twentieth century, thanks to improvements of tomatoes’ processing techniques and to the beginning of the farming and production of tomatoes in open field, Italian exporters of tomatoes reached top levels worldwide, while trade, retailing and import/export of tomatoes increasingly grew all over the world. In fact, Italy is still today third in the world ranking of farms for the production ,the import/export and the processing of tomatoes.
Visit our website www.zipmec.eu and look up for the list of farms of tomatoes on the most wide ad up to date database for fruits and vegetables.