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Tomato processing industry in India ‚Äď future trends and key opportunities

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Tomatoes are grown in abundance both in the summer and winter seasons in India. The crop grown in the winter is of superior quality because they contain more total solids. The tomato paste retains all of the flavour, sweetness, and nutrients in the fresh fruits. The tomato processing industry in India is equipped with state of the art manufacturing facilities and advanced technology. 

Around 80% of the tomatoes are consumed fresh and 20% are employed in the processing to make tomato paste, puree, ketchup, pickles, juices and sauces. Tomato paste is a smooth thick substance manufactured by processing fresh and ripened tomatoes. Tomato paste is a raw material for manufacturing tomato processed products. The sauce and ketchup sector is the major user of tomato paste. 

Global Tomato availability 

There are more than 1500 varieties of tomatoes cultivated in India. Only a few varieties are commercially cultivated. India is the second-largest producer of tomatoes, producing 20 million tomatoes every year. India contributes to 11% of the world’s total tomato production.  However, India processes only 150000 tonnes of tomatoes annually. India’s demand for tomato processed products has surged by 40%. India’s annual ketchup consumption is estimated to be 150000 tonnes with a valuation of 1.8 billion. 

Though many countries produce tomato paste, the ten largest producing countries account for 83% of the world’s yearly production. China is the largest producer of tomatoes followed by India, Turkey, and the United States. The tomato is also cultivated in the Northern hemisphere and processed in the months of July and December. The southern hemisphere region’s production is between January and June. Brazil is the only country in the Southern hemisphere that processes one million tons per year at the same season as the Northern hemisphere.

Tomato production

Tomato processing industry in India ‚Äď Production capacities

Unlike guava and mango processing industries, The number of tomato processing industries is limited. Most of the processing industries are located in the Krishnagiri and Chittoor districts of India. Most of the varieties cultivated in India are used as a table variety and only a few varieties are used for processing. 

In the year 2019-20, the main production and exchange countries exported 6.8 million tonnes of tomato paste, which is 35% higher than the previous year. The global tomato paste export market generated a revenue of USD 3.1billion of the USD 6.4billion generated by the global trade of tomato products. The demand for tomato paste has been steadily increasing and China has dedicated capital investment to overtake the dominant position of the USA and Italy.    

The tomato processing industries are located mostly in the southern regions of India. Tomato paste production is viable for the tomato processing industries in South India because of their close proximity to tomato growing areas. The World Processing Tomato council estimated that 41.37 million tonnes of tomatoes were processed into value-added products around the globe. Thus represent 26% of the total fresh tomato production. In comparison, just about 1% of tomato production is being processed to produce value-added products. 

Usage of tomato processed products

The primary tomato processed products are Tomato puree and tomato paste. The primary tomato processed products pave a way for secondary processed products. The ketchup and sauce industry is the major consumer of tomato puree and paste. Additionally, the beverage and culinary product industries are the second major consumers of tomato paste and puree. 

Tomato is an essential product in the B2B sector since it is used as a raw material to produce other processed tomato products. Tomato juice, paste, puree, diced/peeled tomatoes, ketchup, pickles, sauces, tomato-based powder products, and ready to eat curries. Processed tomato products have a wide range of applications in the food industry, snacks, culinary,  motels, restaurants, and fast food retail chains.

Processing varieties of tomato 

Abhinav and Namdari are the most popular varieties of tomato processed in India. Rashmi, Vaishali, and Rupali are processed in small quantities. Southern varieties are mostly used for processing. Northern varieties are used for table purposes. These two varieties contribute to 90% of processing and the remaining market share is taken by other varieties. Tomatoes are processed at the beginning of the year from (Jan-April) and from August-October. 

Tomato paste

The Abhinav variety is grown in the region of Karnataka and is most suited for processing. Namdhari is grown across all the states in India. These two are the most preferred commercial varieties by the tomato paste processors. This tomato paste has a great demand in the domestic ketchup and sauce market.

  • Brix: 28-30 Deg (hot break)
  • Packing: tomato is packed aseptically in pre-sterilized aseptic bags placed with poly-liner in food-grade epoxy painted (inside) open-top MS drum.¬†
  • Product Net weight: 228kg / Drum.
  • Gross weight: 18MT (80 drums in 20 FCL)
  • Shelf life: 24 months from the date of manufacturing.

Tomato paste processing method ‚Äď How are tomatoes processed?

The ripened tomatoes are unloaded in the factory and it undergoes the first stage of quality control. The fruits are then sorted to remove mechanically injured or spoiled fruits. The fruits are unloaded and filled in the crates. The tomato paste processing begins by washing tomatoes with chlorinated water at 5-10ppm and then with plain water to remove dust particles. 

The tomatoes are crushed in the fruit miller and the pulp is collected in the pulp storage tank. The puree is preheated at 85-95 Deg Celcius and refined to remove seed/ tomato waste. The product is passed through the evaporator to remove the water content. The tomato paste is then passed through a strainer and metal detector to remove impurities. Eventually, the product is sterilized and filled in aseptic bags. The tomato paste with aseptic bags is packed in MS drums and stored in the warehouses.

Tomato paste processing flow chart

Here is the process flowchart for the extraction of tomato paste.  The tomato paste is further processed into ketchup, sauce, and other processed tomato products. 

Tomato processing flowchart

Future trends in the tomato processing Industry

Because of the rapid urbanization, consumers in emerging and developed countries are lured to eat readymade foods and tomato processed products. To meet the growing demand, processed food manufacturers and tomato paste processors are focusing on ready to eat products. In 2021, the global tomato processing market was valued at 43.4 million tonnes. The global processing industry is expected to see a CAGR of 3.8% from 2022 to 2027. The Indian tomato processing industry witnessed moderate growth during the year 2015-to 2020. However, the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.2% in the year 2021-2026. The advances in seed research and breeding procedures make tomatoes available all around the year. This is one of the key factors driving the global tomato processing industry. 

Key opportunities for the tomato processing industry

In India, over the last three years, the demand for tomato processed products has increased at a rate of 30% each year. Additionally, the range of tomato processed foods is expanding with the introduction of various tomato products including powder-based products. ICAR-IIHR Bengaluru has observed that there are plenty of opportunities to breed dual purpose opportunities with processing quality attributes.  This will pave the way for the tomato processing industry to produce more puree/paste in India. 

Challenges for the Tomato processors

  • Most tomato varieties currently cultivated by the farmers are suitable only for table purposes. They are not suitable for the¬†tomato processing industry.¬† The tomatoes cultivated in India are acidic with large locules and thin walls. Thus, it requires more fruit to produce tomato paste.
  • For tomato paste processors, product perishability is a critical quality factor. Tomatoes have less shelf life. Physical losses up to 25-30% can occur during transportation and storage, comprising the quality of the processed paste.
  • A constant supply of economical tomatoes is non-viable as off-season tomatoes are expensive.¬†

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