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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Tomatoes: Paint the town red

October is National Tomato Month, but in August the market is bursting with ripe, juicy tomatoes begging to be eaten. Make this tomato month in your store, and shine the spotlight on this fruit a little early. Not only will you move more tomatoes, you’ll also generate sales in other departments during a traditionally slow time of year. Here’s how.

Week 1: Highlight heirlooms with descriptive signage. For example: Black Krim—dark red with greenish tops, these have a sweet and savory flavor great for sandwiches and sauces. Brandy wine—this Amish heirloom variety dates back to the late 1800s. A bit fragile but worth the extra care. Then ask your grower or distributor for some sample fruit, and demo the heck out of these bad boys.

Week 2: Bring in several varieties of Roma tomatoes—red, yellow, pink—and do a sauce-making demo in your store kitchen or local culinary school. There is nothing like the taste of homemade tomato sauce, and in these budget-conscious times, shoppers will appreciate the opportunity to learn sauce making. Build a case stack of Romas, and offer case pricing along with canning materials on special.

Week 3: This week it’s cherry tomatoes. Fill a whole end cap with pints and pints of these multicolored beauties. Sell open pints by the pound so your customers can mix and match. On Saturday do a “pop till you drop” tasting to get products moving and create some fun.

Week 4: Offer several meal ideas to drive carts to other departments. Think summer pastas, salads, and grilled meat or fish with a tomato relish. Make sure to supply recipe cards and ask your prepared-foods department to make some for sampling and sale.

Simple Tomato Bruschetta
Serves 8

2 tablespoons flavorful olive oil
4 fat anchovy fillets, packed in oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 cup high-quality olive oil
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
8 thick slices rustic bread, for dipping
2 pints cherry tomatoes, assorted colors

1. Cook 2 tablespoons flavorful olive oil, anchovies and garlic over very low heat until anchovies mash using the pressure of a fork, only 3-4 minutes. Be careful to keep the heat low enough not to burn the garlic. Remove from heat. When cool, add to 3/4 cup high-quality olive oil and grind on a twist of pepper.

2. Toast bread. Rinse cherry tomatoes and arrange on a platter. Dip pieces of bread into oil-garlic-anchovy mixture, then pop a cherry tomato into your mouth and eat together.

Recipe by Donna Prizgintas; reprinted courtesy of Delicious Living (delicious

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