The construction of one of Europe’s largest glasshouses on a brownfield site on Teeside will bring British tomatoes to supermarket shelves all year round.
The 15ha (38-acre) greenhouse, being built in two phases by Yorkshire-based tomato grower John Baarda, will use steam and CO2 from the neighbouring Terra fertiliser plant, allowing tomatoes to thrive whatever the weather.
The company has also negotiated a deal with Terra to provide cheap, fixed-cost electricity, according to managing director David Baarda.
“Increasing our glasshouse facilities to this extent will have a massive impact. It will streamline our business, increase year-round yields and drive better financial efficiency,” said Mr Baarda.
He estimated that the development would use 12,500t of CO2 a year and save as many as 250,000 food miles.
The millions of tomatoes grown on the site will be in Sainsbury’s and Somerfield by December.
Sainsbury’s fresh produce buyer, Clancy McMahon, described it as a defining moment for British crop production. “For the very first time, our grey skies won’t hinder the supply of British tomatoes which taste just as good as they do in Italy and Spain.”