How Much Do Sweet Tomatoes Cost?
Tomatoes are popular and versatile food obtainable in different types, sizes, shapes and colors. Among the most popular are the sweet tomatoes, which have a deep, rich, red color. Specifically, the sweetest are the Tiny Tim cherry tomato varieties and the small yellow tomatoes, about the same size as cherry tomatoes but pear-shaped. Overall though, any type of tomato can be sweet as long as they are locally grown and are picked when they are ripe. The price paid for a single or pound of tomato is usually influenced by the variety and the source.
How much does it cost?
- On average, sweet tomatoes are going to cost anywhere from $1 to $6 per pound depending on the time of year and the particular type of tomato. By the pint, the costs can vary anywhere from $3 to $6.
- Johnson’s Backard Garden, a vegetable grower in Austin, Texas, offers two sweet tomato varieties, particularly the Taxi and Golden Rave types which cost $26 for 10 pounds. They also sell cherry or plum tomatoes that cost $15 for 4 pints.
- At Park Slope Food Coop, based in Brooklyn, New York, tomatoes come in several varieties and varied prices: on-vine, organic tomatoes are $4.52 per pound; plum on-vine, organic tomatoes are $4.18 each; organic tomatoes are $2.94 per pound; and plum organic tomatoes are $1.51 per pound.
- The Veggie Patch at Bouchard Farms in Commerce, Georgia, grows heirloom tomatoes and hybrid tomatoes: Juliet tomato cost $1.95 per pound; vine-ripe round red small tomatoes cost $4.20 per pound; vine ripe round red medium tomatoes cost $4.20; vine ripe round red large tomatoes cost $4.20; mixed cherry pint costs $5.60; on-the-vine farmer’s choice cost $5.60 per pound; and on-the-vine tomatoes cost $5.60 per pound.
What is going to be included?
- Tomatoes come in different varieties and can be bought by piece, by pound, or by box. When buying at a farmers’ market or at a farmer’s stand, you have the option to look at tomatoes and inspect them one by one, or you can go with a pre-packed bag. At supermarkets, the items will usually be packed in containers.
What are the extra costs?
- When buying online, you may need to pay for shipping costs. With some online vendors though, you will not have to pay for shipping or transport as they will deliver the tomatoes at an agreed-upon location where you can pay them directly.
Factors that influence the price:
- Variety. In general, heirloom tomatoes are more expensive compared with other varieties. They have more flavor and color and are allowed to ripen on the vine. They have a thin skin and require more care when picking and storing. In addition, they bear less fruit than other tomato types and have a very slow ripening process, which can result to higher susceptibility to damage brought about by insects and weather conditions.
- Handpicked/machine-picked. Tomatoes that are hand-picked are more expensive compared with the ones that are machine-picked. Handpicking the tomatoes needs to be done with care to ensure the tomatoes are not damaged. Meanwhile, tomatoes picked by machines require less care as the fruits are not yet in a delicate state, allowing them to be reaped, shipped and stored in mass quantities.
- Season. Tomato varieties that are available all year round tend to have lower prices in comparison with the types that are harvested only at certain times of the year. Plum tomatoes can be bought anytime of the year.
- Source. The best tomatoes are grown in local farms and picked when ripe, especially in the summer. Tomatoes grown in greenhouses, picked ripe and shipped by air are often the most expensive. Meanwhile, tomatoes that are picked green, applied with ethylene to change the color into more or less red, refrigerated and shipped may be priced lower compared to those left to ripen on tomato vines.
Tips to know:
- The best tomatoes you can purchase will be at a local farm stand, when tomatoes are in season in your area.
- Locally grown tomatoes are the best when it comes to taste. They are also healthier since they are usually grown with less or no pesticides and chemicals, unlike with commercially-driven farms.
- When picking out cherry tomatoes, look for those that have a good red color and still have stems. Missing the stem is often an indication that the tomatoes are not freshly picked.
- Never refrigerate tomatoes. Refrigerating them takes away the flavor and the nutrients and affects the texture.
- Avoid hybrid tomatoes because they are hard, thick and have no taste.
How can I save money?
- Buy locally. Farmer stands and farmers markets provide the best tomatoes at significantly lower prices.
- When ordering tomatoes from a farm that sells online, arrange to pick up the tomatoes yourself and pay them directly. Many farms offer as much as 40-50% discounts at the time of pickup, but will usually forfeit them when you pay through PayPal.
- Consider joining food coops. They provide their members with local, organic produce which can be bought at hugely discounted prices.
- Produce bought at retailers and membership warehouse clubs are sometimes less expensive than in regular supermarkets and grocery stores.