British Tesco supplier develops new packaging made from tomato plant leaves

Emma Burke

Group Technical Director - APS
Middlewich, Cheshire

26 May 2017

Tesco’s innovative tomato growers APS develop new packaging to help customers reduce waste at home.

APS have been supplying fresh produce to Tesco for 28 years and we’re always looking for new ways to bring the best British produce to Tesco customers. Part of our innovation has been about re-using energy, reducing food miles and saving food waste.

In the last few years though we’ve been looking at a way to reduce the use of plastic in our packaging. We’ve managed to develop a punnet made from the discarded leaves of our tomato plants.

Tomato Plant Leaves

A tomato plant produces three new leaves each week. As these leaves get older they find themselves in the shade at the bottom of the plant. After around 7-8 weeks they are more of an energy taker than of any benefit to the plant. Therefore, we remove these leaves.

Now instead of composting them or sending them to landfill we have come up with a novel solution so that the leaves can be made into punnets for the tomatoes. 

Packaging Moulded From Tomato Fibre

This process involves deleafing the plants each week and separating the fibrous parts to produce a fine fibre. This fine fibre from tomato leaves is then moulded just like a normal plastic punnet to form a tomato fibre punnet.

Fresher For Longer

Apart from reusing the tomato plant leaves the new fibre punnets also absorb moisture while still maintaining their integrity. The condensation that is sometimes seen when using plastic packaging can accelerate the deterioration of the fruit. With the new packaging naturally absorbing the moisture the tomatoes will stay fresher for longer. Tesco have been developing a similar product to keep mushrooms fresher for longer.

Goodbye Plastic Punnets

It is still very early days in the development of this technology but here at APS we are actively working to reduce the amount of plastic used to pack our British tomatoes.

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