Greenhouse tomato quality determinants on a north american market: A year round study.
The world fresh tomato market is becoming increasingly complex, as imported tomatoes from several countries can now be found on Northern Country markets such as Canada. Depending on the position within the market chain, it is not clear which quality attribute is the major quality determinant. In order to answer this question, a fruit quality study was undertaken in the province of Quebec, Canada, at the grower, wholesaler and retailer levels. A total of thirteen physicochemical parameters were measured to assess the influence of several factors on tomato quality. Pesticides residues and microbial load analysis were also conducted. Fruits on the Quebec market were mostly locally grown, with significant supplies from neighbouring Ontario, Canada, and from Mexico. On the whole, fruits on the Quebec market are homogenous with regard to percent dry matter, firmness and fresh weight. But differences were measured, and the most important causing factor was tomato variety. Besides, fruit origin influences color, electrical conductivity, titratable acidity and lycopene content. The sampling season was also a large source of differences among fruits. Pesticide residues were detected on half of the fruits. No instances of abovelimit pesticide residues were found. Fungicides are the most used pesticides. Traces of compounds not allowed for use in Canada were detected. There was a trend for higher microbial loads on fruits from Mexico, with lowest values in locally grown tomatoes. It was found that there are significant multivariate relationships between greenhouse production practices and fruit quality. Globally, this study does not determine which fruits are better, but provides relevant information to help producers develop authentic niche products aiming at specific consumer preferences.
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