Tomato-ly delicious.

We’re just coming to the end of British Tomato Fortnight: the two weeks of the year when UK tomato growing hits its rosy peak.

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But every week is tomato week here at Oddbox – in fact, we rescue between three and six tonnes on average every week, from the UK and beyond. So to celebrate all things round and red, we spoke to our grower Rik at APS Group – the UK’s largest supplier of tomatoes to the high street.  

O: Hi Rik. Tell us about APS Group and your tomatoes.


R: We grow tomatoes right across the UK, with the largest area on the Isle of Wight. In total, we produce around 650 million tomatoes every year – around 30% of all UK tomatoes. We have over 55 commercial varieties, ranging from the small and sweet to some with real savoury umami flavours. Something for everyone! But we also trial over 190 new types, including organic varieties, each year.

As a company, we take sustainability very seriously and are always looking for ways to reduce our impact and use waste products. We grow in coir rather than rockwool, use biodegradable string, and compost all our old plants, growing material and string for our organic production. We also use all the old paper, cardboard and wood in the process, making production very sustainable on the Isle.

O: That’s great to hear! What are the biggest challenges when it comes to tomato growing?


R: Well, other than disease and virus, which can affect all growers, the weather and the climate have a huge impact on how successful our tomatoes are. Tomatoes need lots of light and warmth to develop a deep colour and keep growing flowers – this year our nurseries in the north of England have been really impacted by darker days.

So far this year we believe 20% of the potential crop hasn’t developed due to the plants growing more slowly. If you look at the light levels over the last few weeks, we’re well below last year and also below the five-year average. It’s been really tough.

O: Does the weather also impact how many of your tomatoes are at risk of going to waste?


R: Yes, absolutely. Hot, sunny weather is great for tomatoes, so if we have a glorious week (it does happen!) then we’ll see a huge crop a few weeks later. If the weather has since changed to being cold and grey, supermarkets won’t be able to sell as many. And while the majority of retailers do their best to stock excess fruit, sometimes things change so quickly that we’re not able to sell what we’re left with.

O: That sounds like a tomato rollercoaster! Do you also see fruit that’s “too odd”?


R: There isn’t really such a thing as a class 2 tomato, with the exception of some beef tomatoes that can rub against the plant causing marks to the skin. So it’s more about size – at the start of the season some fruits are naturally very big. We’ve seen tomatoes weighing over 1 kilo!

O: Blimey, we’ll look forward to rescuing those whoppers! And on that note, what does working with Oddbox mean to you?


R: I’m lucky enough to have known Emilie and Deepak, Oddbox’s founders, for many years now. We all have the same values and believe in saving great-tasting produce – especially when there’s so much love and resources gone into it. It’s really reassuring having the security of our relationship with Oddbox, so we know we can move fruit quickly and make sure as little as possible is wasted.

O: Thanks for the ketchup Rik, and happy British Tomato Fortnight to you and your team!


Unpacked a cheery bunch of cherry toms? Looking for a salad to slice your whoppers into? Or just after more tip-top tomato inspo? Follow us @Oddboxldn for the latest, and search for tomato recipes on our website to find everything from salads to sauces and skewers. Ready, steady, grow.