Belgian cooperative BelOrta is celebrating 25 years since the first Belgian vine tomatoes were supplied at Mechelen auction, one of the forerunners of the current BelOrta organisation.
According to BelOrta, the historic decision to cut the vine and sell the tomatoes by the bunch was groundbreaking in the further development of tomato cultivation in Belgium.
“Some progressive growers and their advisers saw an opportunity 25 years ago to harvest some of the varieties grown at that time as a bunch,” the company stated. “BelOrta’s commercial managers and quality and packaging staff were involved in the discussions to bring this new tomato to the market in a well thought-out manner. The vine tomato was born and has since never disappeared from Belgian greenhouses.”
BelOrta marked the occasion with a celebration at its headquarters in Sint-Katelijne-Waver, attended by Jan and Sonia Smets and Marja Van Dessel (the first vine tomato growers), Dominiek Devisch (cultivation adviser), Rudy Verbruggen and Frans De Laet (former tomato inspectors at BelOrta), Dirk Bertels (BelOrta chairman), Dirk Uytterhoeven (chairman of BelOrta’s tomato producer group), Chris De Pooter (director of BelOrta), Luc Peeters (former director of the research station for vegetable cultivation) and Raf De Vis (current director of the research station).
BelOrta’s growers continue to invest in new tomato varieties and cultivation techniques, with both loose and vine tomatoes available in multiple varieties, sizes and colours. Today, BelOrta boasts 40 vine tomato growers who bring tasty, local produce to the auction every day.