Tesco launches lycopene-rich 'Super-Tomatoes'

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Lycopene, Tomato, Nutrition, Tesco

British supermarket giant Tesco has launched a British-grown tomato
that offers double the lycopene content of normal tomatoes, as the
company continues to expand its functional food range.

Tomatoes are a valuable source of nutrients, including beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and the carotenoid lycopene, a potent antioxidant that gives the fruit its characteristic red colour.

Recent studies have linked tomatoes and their extracts to reducing the risk of several diseases, such as prostate cancer, and lowering inflammation that may cause hypertension and heart disease.

"This is the first step for Tesco into the developing world of functional foods and we plan to extend our range as public interest grows,"​ said Ian Reed, produce technical manager for Tesco.

Public interest is already on the rise, say Tesco, with demand for tomatoes reported to have soared by 10 per cent in the last year.

The new Tesco Healthy Living Tomato on the Vine variety, grown by West Sussex specialist grower Humber VHB, are said to contain 36 per cent more lycopene than the standard tomato variety, Elegance.

The tomato was bred in Holland from different types of tomatoes with high lycopene levels.

"Functional foods such as tomatoes naturally have high levels of lycopene however this naturally-bred variety has even higher levels than standard ones,"​ said Reed.

"The health benefits of anti oxidants such as lycopene in our diets have recently attracted a lot of positive attention from both the medical and culinary worlds,"​ he said.

The tomatoes will only be available in packs of four to five tomatoes (retail price £1.89) in the company's south coast stores, but if sales are good, as Reed expects them to be, then the variety will be made available throughout the UK.

Growing public understanding of several fruits and vegetables has also seen demand increase across the UK in recent times. Sales of blueberries are reported to have rocketed by 130 per cent, while raspberry sales grew by 62 per cent in the last two years and strawberries by 34 per cent.

Even old classics like rhubarb that had fallen from favour are reported to be back in fashion with supermarket chain Morrisons, for example, reporting to have seen sales double in one month, making it their number one vegetable in terms of sales.

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