Campbell Soup has a long history with tomatoes. The company, which was founded in Camden, New Jersey in 1869 quickly gained business prominence following its invention of condensed soup in 1897. Tomato soup was one of the first Campbell’s soup products.
As the company grew, additional production capacity was required to meet increased consumer demand across the country. Tomato production and processing also moved across the country, to the west, to meet increased production requirements.
In 1948, Campbell established its Vegetable Research Center at Davis, California to meet the challenges required to develop tomato varieties that were able to adapt to the growing conditions in California. The creation of a tomato breeding unit and subsequent establishment of the Campbell’s Seeds group were natural developments.
Today, Campbell continues to operate its own tomato processing plants in California and Mexico. Development of new tomato varieties is closely tied to processing requirements in order to improve plant efficiency and reduce costs while improving finished product quality. Selection work must also clearly demonstrate improving and consistent grower and processor benefits.
Innovation in the tomato processing industry over the past 20 years has driven a switch to hybrid varieties that deliver higher yields with high Brix, outstanding color, and the right viscosity for the products to be made.
Future challenges include the quest for higher yields with even higher Brix including improved fruit firmness and field holding ability while offering greater disease resistance. Adaptation to different field conditions is also very important as Campbell’s Seeds expands both domestic and international seed sales activities.
In California we are at the forefront of developing Fusarium Race 3 resistant varieties and continue to develop new commercial lines with resistance to Spotted Wilt Virus and Late Blight diseases. There is more to come as we continue our efforts to deliver value added new varieties.