The Empire of Red Gold
The world's most consumed fruit has an untold story. The industrialization of the humble tomato preceded the globalized economy that was to follow. And as in other industries, China has become the world's leading supplier. This documentary shows how the country has managed to capture the market for this staple of western cuisine.
Consumers may not know it, but Italian pomodori now often come from China. When Heinz began converting tomatoes into standardized cans of puree in 1897, the company banned unions, imposed uniform standards of production and established genetic laboratories that ensured identical tomato plantations all around the world. In the present day, foods processed in the EU no longer have to declare the product's actual country of origin - making tomatoes a lucrative crop for Chinese farmers. When processed into ketchup, tomato paste or tomato sauce, people tend not to ask where the tomatoes hail from. Lower costs and environmental standards in China mean that farmers there can grow the fruit for far less. This documentary follows the journey of tomato paste from China to Italy, Africa and the United States, and shows the less appetizing consequences of this global business.