Pomodorino D´Oro – What the quality award means for Mutti
The Pomodoro d´Oro (Golden Tomato) quality price is a big deal for us. Since the year 2000, it has been our way to celebrate the harvest, reward excellent quality, and build connections with the tomato farming community. The award signifies a truly exceptional harvest and raises its receivers into industry celebrity status.
Where do golden tomatoes come from?
It all started in the year 2000, when Francesco Mutti, the CEO of Mutti, decided to create a new incentive and way of rewarding the best farmers of the year. A monetary bonus was a way to help farmers invest more in developing their production methods. Still, something more was required to truly lift out the outliers in the industry. Tomato is not just a tomato, and a high-quality tomato is a result of professional skill, passion, and a constant need to improve.
Thus Pomodoro d´Oro (Golden Tomato) was born.
It is a quality award given to the best farmers of the year, those farmers who manage to surpass the already high expectations we place on our farmers. It lifts the people behind the year’s most magnificent tomatoes to the honorary station they deserve.
It is said that the very first editions of this contest were organized around a long table next to the scaling area offering thick sliced salami and bits of Parmesan cheese, some bread and a few bottles of red wine to celebrate the end of the harvesting campaign; then, at a certain point in the party, when the tone of voice got louder, the public debate started on who had brought the best tomato and,” after long discussion, someone was acclaimed as the best farmer of the year.
Now each year, 10 % of Mutti farmers around Italy, meaning around 40 farmers, get rewarded with a monetary bonus for their quality. Only a few also get the Golden Tomato statue, which makes them the professionals, whose methods everyone tries to emulate the following year.
Did you know?
The Pomodoro d´Oro prizes celebrated their 20th birthday in the year 2020.
Who decides the winners?
After a few years it was decided to finetune a set of rules that now identifies 11 different parameters and a scale of merit for each parameter. Each load of tomatoes is hence evaluated and scored. For farmers who exceed the minimum delivery threshold (500 t / year for round tomatoes, 250 for long tomatoes and 150 for cherry tomatoes) an average score is calculated and thus a ranking is drawn up that classifies the 40 best producers of round tomato, the 20 best producers of long tomato and the 4 best producers of cherry tomato of the year.
The Pomodoro d´Oro is an award for a harvest that exceeds the norms of the year. This means that getting it requires consistently better crops and keeping up with the development of the community.
The winners get decided by the quality checks and measurements done upon arrival of each load of tomatoes to the factory. Colour, consistency, sugar levels, and general condition, among other things, are methodically measured. This means the winner gets decided by a series of laboratory tests, which are then compared to all other harvests that year.
A good year gets you a win only if it is better than everybody else’s.
So what do they win?
Those ranking number 1 receive – besides the prize – a remuneration on all production delivered during the year of € 8 / t, those ranking number 2 € 6 / t, number 3 € 5 / t, number 4 to 5 € 3 / t; number 6 to 15 € 2.5 / t, number 16 to 25 € 2.0 / t and number 26 to 40 € 1 / t.
The economic prize is important because it can reach several thousand Euros but the emotional element is also very important, that is, the pride of appearing on an entire page of a national newspaper as the best (or one of the best) tomato grower for the most popular tomato brand in Italy.
How does one award help us be better at what we do?
The community showed great interest and willingness to compete. As soon as the minimum quantity is reached, the totaliser displays on the delivery certificates the achieved score. In this way, each farmer can easily assess the evolution of their score and do some research to find out how the others are doing. The award is also very popular because it represents the achievement of a remarkable commitment to excel among the best.
We are proud to say we know all of our farmers by the first name. For us, the relationship with our farmers is not a contract between companies, but a large, traditional, and proud community. They are our family. Very often, literally.
We help our farmers to learn about new methods and give them the latest research. Sometimes our help can be in the form of equipment or investment in technology. We also always pay 4 % – 6 % more than the industry average with an additional 4 % – 6 % bonuses for high quality. In response, we demand honesty, long term thinking, and ambition about developing all aspects of our production. The prize we give at the end of the year is really only a way to highlight everything that went well each given year.
In the end, Pomodoro d´Oro is a win for everyone – for us, the farmers and naturally all home cooks buying our products. A better tomato is in everyone’s best interest.
What’s the future of the Golden Tomato?
As the varieties of tomatoes and plants have increased, we have tried to maintain the exclusivity of the award.
Over time we have also increased the minimum quantity to be delivered in order to participate in the contest because we do not pursue a Guinness record for just the best load, but rather it is about the best farmer, the one able to make quality in large quantities.
Having reached the twentieth edition, it would be interesting to organise socialisation initiatives for the club of the 39 farmers who have ranked at least 10 times in the last 20 years.
We at Mutti think it would be very nice to find a way to involve and connect our consumers who are fond of the product and who like cooking with our farmers who love their work and therefore growing tomatoes. So maybe in the future this prize will include collaboration with consumers, cooks and tomato lovers, and the people who grow these amazing fruits.