County Fair Tomato Cooperative: Developing an Organic Tomato Processing Cooperative

Project Overview

LNC98-127
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1998: $67,800.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $40,500.00
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Dan Nagengast
Kansas Rural Center, Inc

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Vegetables: garlic, onions, peppers, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs

Practices

  • Crop Production: organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: cooperatives, marketing management, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, employment opportunities

    Abstract:

    A tomato processing cooperative was developed to convert the production of cooperative members’ fresh produce into marketable processed products including tomato sauces and salsa. Finished products were returned to growers as much as possible, for sale through their own marketing channels with profits beyond the cost of manufacturing and processing to remain in the hands of growers. The cooperative developed a common label and nutritional analysis, and has processed for four canning seasons, including beyond the end of funding. Sales of product inventory will determine whether the cooperative continues.

    Introduction:

    Background of Problem:

    One of the region’s few horticultural products which can suffer from market gluts is tomatoes. At the same time, most small horticultural producers do not have the wherewithal to convert these gluts to salable processed food products. Organizing a cooperative to process tomato products and return them to the growers for retail sales might solve the glut issue while increasing farm income.

    Background of Problem:

    One of the region’s few horticultural products which can suffer from market gluts is tomatoes. At the same time, most small horticultural producers do not have the wherewithal to convert these gluts to salable processed food products. Organizing a cooperative to process tomato products and return them to the growers for retail sales might solve the glut issue while increasing farm income.

    Literature Review:

    Tomatoes are a crop easily grown organically, and well suited to growing conditions in Kansas. Abdel-Baki, 1994. Coleman, 1989. Diver, 1992. Hall-Beyer, 1994. Jeavons, 1995. Lamont & Marr.
    There is extensive literature on the formation of processing and marketing cooperatives. Frederick 1995. Rapp 1993. Rapp 1996. Reilly, 1992.
    Canning and processing of tomatoes is an ancient art and there are numerous texts and references available. Gould 1992. Lopez 1987. Reynolds 1989.

    Project objectives:

    Objectives/Performance Targets:

    1)) developing and testing a variety of processed organic tomato products; 2) developing low-cost equipment suitable for use with limited processing runs of tomatoes in a certified kitchen; 3) development of a suitable, legal label, together with nutritional labeling analysis; 4) development of production standards and practices to standardize farm production; 5) development of a marketing cooperative, from business plan to self-sufficient business; 6) exploration and implementation of at least 3 marketing channels; 7) increasing farm family income through agricultural activity and retained control of value-added processing.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.