About Red Tomato

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Handout used during the workshop "Reinventing Food Distribution for Regional Food Systems" presented by staff from Red Tomato

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About Red Tomato

  1. 1. About Red Tomato Mission. Red Tomato’s mission is connecting farmers and consumers through marketing, trade, and education, and through a passionate belief that a family-farm, locally-based, ecological, fair trade food system is the way to a better tomato. • Red Tomato is a non-profit organization, founded in 1996 and based in Canton, MA. We are a unique organization, with one foot in the mission-based non-profit world and the other in the market-based world of commerce. • Our research, market development and education work is supported by grants and donations from individuals, foundations, and government programs. • Our trade work—buying, selling, and marketing of fresh produce to supermarkets and other customers—is supported by a small percentage of market-based prices. We also provide consulting on a fee basis. Fresh Produce. Red Tomato coordinates marketing, sales, and logistics for a network of over 40 family farms in the Northeast. Our efforts on behalf of this network make their fresh, local fruits and vegetables available to grocery stores throughout the region - and beyond. • $2.65 million in sales in 2009. • Over $15 million in produce sales since 1998 in over 300 supermarkets, institutions, and restaurants. Fresh Thinking. To stay competitive in the wholesale market, farmers must constantly keep in mind market trends and potential regulations or changes in current regulations. Farmers in the Red Tomato network benefit from the dynamic information-sharing that happens within our grower network. This farmer-to-farmer dialogue, combined with similar conversations with retail buyers, enables Red Tomato to develop programs that maintain the competitive edge of farmers in our grower network. Current programs include food safety, farm labor, Eco Apple and Eco Stone Fruit. For more information please visit www.redtomato.org or email info@redtomato.org
  2. 2. Red Tomato: Frequently Asked Questions What does Red Tomato do? Red Tomato coordinates marketing, sales, and wholesale logistics for a network of over 40 family farms in the Northeast. We help farmers compete in the wholesale market by establishing fair prices, developing packaging and promotional materials, working with scientists on sustainable growing standards, and creating innovative marketing to connect consumers with the people who grow their food. Why a non-profit? Our non-profit status allows us to do innovative marketing and pay growers a fair price in the context of a very competitive, low-margin, commodity-focused produce industry. Our non-traditional, values-based model requires a non-traditional organization and non-traditional support. What are your sources of funding? Currently, 60% of our funding comes from government and foundation grants and individual donations. 30% is trade-based income. The remaining 10% of our funding is income from consulting. Are Red Tomato products organic? Some of the growers in the Red Tomato network are certified organic. Most use a combination of advanced IPM (Integrated Pest Management) and other methods to balance ecological, conservation and product quality goals. What is IPM? Integrated Pest Management requires growers to use a wide range of natural techniques to control pests, like targeted mowing and pruning, with minimum chemical applications. There is no national certification for IPM, so Red Tomato has partnered with the IPM Institute of America to create third-party IPM certification standards for Eco Apples and Eco Stone Fruit. What does Red Tomato mean by regional? Red Tomato works with growers across the Northeast, in New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. By developing a regional food system we can both increase supply and extend the season of product availability for our customers. What is the dignity deal? In order to develop a supply chain that offers fair returns to growers for any given product, Red Tomato establishes each farmers' personal dignity price – a price below which they lose their dignity and income. Other key components of the dignity deal include: feedback loops between buyers, customers, and farmers, transparency, shared risk, and farmer participation in negotiations. For more information please visit www.redtomato.org or email info@redtomato.org

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