Tomato is one of the most widespread horticultural species in the world and is characterized by the possibility of being used in various forms; it is in fact suitable to be consumed fresh or as a derivative (sauce, peeled, juices, ketchup, etc.) thanks to an evolved industrial transformation frequently used as model for many other food products. It is hard to imagine a tomato-free cuisine, as so many dishes of our national culinary traditions are based on this vegetable that can be defined as a symbol of Mediterranean cuisine.
Although markets and consumer demands have moved in the direction of greater service content, tomato products have maintained their commercial presentation almost unchanged. Such standardization no longer allows these products to stand out in the market among various international competitors, more interested in new well-being and, more generally, “on the move” lifestyle concepts: hence there is a need for product upgrading, as has already happened in similar food sectors.
Many changes are currently taking place in the tomato market and industry. Tomato derivatives should now better combine their services (origin, tradition, link with the territory, quality, service, supply chain) to these new consumer requirements, a road already begun that has led to the diversification of derivatives from the classic whole peeled tomatoes to ready-made sauces. Along with these improvements and changes, quality is generally improving and becoming more uniform. The use of better methods of quality evaluation, including studies of the relationships between physicochemical and sensory attributes and consumer acceptability, leads to a product that better satisfies consumer expectations.
The tomato processing industry generates very high quantities of processing waste, representing about 3% of the processed production. At the same time, the tomato supply chain is faced with problems relating to the disposal of waste from industrial processing, which currently, due to high costs, is critical in terms of environmental and economic sustainability. This problem should be addressed by developing ways to transform the waste into added-value by-products, bioactive components, and bioenergy. Tomato products (and by-products) are a potential source of health-promoting and bioactive substances (carotenoids, phenolics, and flavonoids) that may help to prevent chronic diseases.
The text has been written with friends and colleagues who are opinion leaders in their areas of expertise. It is proof of our mutual esteem that they immediately responded positively to my request for collaboration for a particularly demanding work that deals with the topics with the necessary scientific rigor, but also considers practical applications. All of them have been successful in this aim.
The topics treated, all current ‘hot topics’ in the tomato industry, include:
rheology and mechanical properties
innovation, new products development
sensory and consumer preference
quality control and new methods
volatile compounds and aroma
non-conventional processing technologies
functional and healthy compounds
valorization of waste and by-products; sustainability
This book is aimed at scientists, technicians, and others involved in the tomato industry. Each chapter stands alone and can be consulted separately, although my personal hope is that readers will benefit by going on to read more than they had originally planned. Those involved in quality control/assurance, R&D, marketing, and processing will find something to interest them in every chapter.
Finally, my sincere thanks to Giovanna Poli and Giovanna Dellapina for helping me with the editing of all chapters.
Experimental Station for the Food Preserving Industry, SSICA, Parma, Italy