The Tomato Stall was created in 2007 to showcase the speciality organic and conventional tomato varieties grown on the Isle of Wight nursery, and taken direct to the customer. The Island’s unique micro-climate coupled with high light levels help to grow tomatoes that are bursting with natural flavour and allow to fully ripen on the vine to reach its full potential. It was an exciting time, loading vans with freshly picked fruit at the crack of dawn and making the journey to farmers’ markets in London. The reception the tomatoes received was overwhelming and, over time, The Tomato Stall travelled far and wide trading all over the south and throughout central London including the now famous Borough Market. As word spread chefs and retailers were keen to get involved, and our wholesale business began to grow fast. Encouraged by the fantastic feedback, I began to experiment with sauces and soups in an effort to capture these incredible tasting tomatoes at the peak of its flavour. The results were a resounding success, and we now boast an entire range of award winning unique tomato inspired products including Pure Tomato Juices and our much adored Oak Roasted Tomatoes.
As well as regularly attending 20 farmers’ markets and being on the menu in many of the UK’s best restaurants, The Tomato Stall can be found in an extensive network of independent farm shops and delis throughout the UK, as well as Occado, Fortum & Mason, Wholefoods, Planet Organic and Marks & Spencer. We also run an online shop with home delivery.
Tips on running a successful food business:
1. Get the product right, and know what it is. It sounds simple, but it’s essential to know what is at the heart of your product, what is special and unique about it? What sets it aside from all competition? It is the answers to these questions which forms the core values of your brand and helps people choose you.
2. Be seen, and heard. It’s vital to get out there amongst it, in the early stages to get your brand known and open doors and later to ensure you keep abreast of changing trends and emerging markets. Shows, festivals, tastings, launches, workshops – these are all opportunities to showcase who you are and what you do. Never underestimate the power of serendipity, a chance meeting could open up a whole new area of business.
3. Innovate. What is new and exciting now will not be so in three years’ time. Keeping ahead of your game is exciting for your staff and your customers.