The Raf tomato is a local delicacy that is famous throughout Spain for being “more expensive than jamón”.
But the luxury vegetable is under increased pressure from cheaper competitors.
A product grown only in the dry soil of Almería, the original Raf was a desert tomato introduced from France in the 1960’s by a company called Semillas Clause.
The Raf is now considered to be the best tomato produced in Spain, with a unique texture and rich flavour that makes it much in demand amongst gourmets.
But its low productivity, of under three kilos a square metre, means it is an expensive crop to grow. At peak demand times such as Christmas, the Raf tomato is sold for more than €30 a kilo in the markets of Madrid and Barcelona.
Now local vegetable cooperatives are warning of the danger posed by variants such as the Marmande which look similar but are cheaper to grow.
To protect the famous “jewel of Almería”, all four of the largest cooperatives in the province will now give the Raf a preferential marketing treatment in order to encourage local farmers to continue producing this “Rolls Royce” of tomatoes.