Turin - Not only motorways, tunnels and engineering work. The Gavio Group is known for engineering works, in tunnels and motorways, in fact, has a company - Tomato Farm - which makes pulp, farm-to-table sauce and purée from tomatoes produced in the company’s own fields and those of 350 other producers (among them Marcello Gavio) within a radius of 50 km from Pozzolo Formigaro in the province of Alessandria. This is a 100% Italian tomato supply chain certified from seeds sown in the greenhouse through to sale,” managing director Martina Gulminetti explained. Let’s take a step backwards. Tomato Farm was founded in 2006 by the initiative of a local producer with the goal of enhancing the historical tomato production in the countryside between Alessandria and Pavia. In 2010 the Gavio group joined the company, subsequently taking it over completely in 2013.
Tomato Farm includes a 1,500-hectare farm, two hundred hectares of which are dedicated to organic farming, and the processing plant, which takes in about 100 million kilograms of tomato to make 350,000 tons of purée, pulp and peeled tomatoes. Gulminetti said, “In a few years, we have tripled our turnover to almost €18 million. Half of that comes from abroad.” From Japan in particular, from Central Europe and also from New Zealand. “We have introduced targeted product innovations such as green tomato and orange tomato purée,” he continued. Gulminetti has brought his experience from the world of grain to the company (he came from Assosementi), which resulted in a product diversification. In 2013, in fact, they started cultivating Tritordeum in Italy. Tritordeum is a new grain which is a natural cross between durum wheat and wild barley, but is more digestible and ductile, but at the same time more productive and resistant,” Gulminetti explained.
Now production has reached about 2.8 million kilograms and a brand (Corte di Rivalta) has been created to market the high end products of processed Tritordeum: flour, beer, pasta, and sweet and savoury snacks. Tomato Farm has 16 permanent employees and about 80 seasonal workers, and invests a part of its revenue in research primarily into how to make the best use of processing by-products. Gulminetti adds: “With the University of Turin, we are studying the possibility of extracting lycopene from tomato skin to reuse it to enrich our products”. And that’s not all. “With a Dutch university, we are studying the possibility of extracting oil from tomato seeds for food or pharmaceutical use. It is a futuristic project.”