Moment of Indiana History

You Say Tomato

Although fields of corn and soybeans might be most apparent, the Hoosier state ranks second in the nation for production of tomatoes for processing.

Brandywine, Beefsteak, Mr. Stripey … just a few of the many ways one can “say tomato”.

And in Indiana, there’s plenty of tomato talk.

Although fields of corn and soybeans might be most apparent, the Hoosier state ranks second in the nation for production of tomatoes for processing.

In 2007, more than 10,000 acres of Indiana farmland were planted with the plump red crop that’s technically a fruit.

The overwhelming majority of those acres were planted by farmers contracted with tomato processing giant Red Gold, whose company headquarters and manufacturing facilities are based in the towns of Elwood, Orestes, and Geneva. Alexandria, Indiana is the company’s primary distribution center.

Started by a father-daughter team in 1942, Red Gold is still a privately owned company. Grover and Frances Hutcherson purchased the dilapidated Orestes Packing Company to can tomatoes for the war effort, and acquired the Red Gold cannery, name, and familiar double-orbed logo in 1970.

The nation’s largest privately-owned tomato processing firm has a 25 per cent share of the national ketchup market, and a 37 percent share of the retail market for canned tomatoes.

Although the 2002 Farm Act severely limited the cultivation of tomatoes on land otherwise designated for federally subsidized crops, the 54 growers in Indiana, southern Michigan and Ohio that supply Red Gold have lately enjoyed the lightening of restrictions regarding so-called specialty agriculture resulting from passage of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.

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