Scottish tomatoes return to supermarket shelves

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Fred Searle

BY FRED SEARLE

Scottish tomatoes return to supermarket shelves

Scotty Brand becomes only commercial supplier of Scottish tomatoes, overcoming growing challenges that halted domestic production

Scottish tomatoes return to supermarket shelves

Jim Shanks (left) with celebrity chef Andrew Fairlie

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Scotty Brand is welcoming tomatoes back to its product range this spring as part of an initiative to bring back Scottish tomatoes to the commercial growing market.

The tomatoes have been grown at Standhill Farm near Hawick in the Scottish Borders since last summer and Scotty Brand has been working with farmer Jim Shanks to overcome the various challenges of growing the crop in Scotland. 

The tomato crop is being farmed especially for Scotty Brand, with the first batch now ready to retail. Scotty Brand Tomatoes will be available in all Lidl stores in Scotland, Wholefoods, as well as selected Morrison and Waitrose stores in Scotland until early November.

Two packs of Scotty Brand tomatoes will be available: 240g Annamay Cocktail – a sweet and juicy variety of tomatoes on the vine, and 250g Sweetelle baby plum tomatoes.

Michael Jarvis, head of marketing for Scotty Brand, said: “We are very excited that tomatoes will be part of our product range again. Scotty Brand is always looking for new and exciting seasonal products to add to its portfolio and we have been searching for a suitable commercial tomato-growing partner for a while.

“Scotland’s tomato-growing industry was previously a thriving one and we are thrilled to see that tomatoes are growing commercially again in the country.”

Originally purely a dairy farm, Standhill Farm – home to fifth-generation farmers the Shanks family – has diversified to become the only commercial grower of Scottish tomatoes.

Jim Shanks said: “We are delighted to be working with Scotty Brand to grow Scottish tomatoes. We have built a bespoke state-of-the-art greenhouse to house and grow the crop and we also brought in our tomato expert Mark Wilkinson who has over 28 years’ experience of glasshouse growing, and now lives on the farm.”

Covering around 15,500 m2, the size of approximately two and a half football pitches, the glasshouse is fully sustainable: water for the tomatoes comes from rainwater falling on the roof; the CO2 to encourage plant growth is a by-product of the farm’s own biogas plant, which also provides electricity; and heat comes from a wood-chip burner, which is fuelled by wood from the farm and surrounding area.

In addition, the glasshouse is equipped with thermal screens to preserve heat and, occasionally, to reduce the heat of the Scottish sun.

Double Michelin-starred chef Andrew Fairlie celebrated the return of Scotty Brand tomatoes by visiting the Border’s farm and being one of the first to cook and taste the tomatoes.

Fairlie said: “Scotland was once famous for growing tomatoes and I am delighted to see the industry back in production. What makes Scotty Brand tomatoes especially attractive to me is that they’re locally grown in such an environmentally-friendly and sustainable way, which is very much the way the market is going.”

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