Sector News

Out of this world: Heinz develops Martian tomato ketchup with Aldrin Space Institute

November 14, 2021
Food & Drink

Heinz, along with a team of astrobiologists has successfully cultivated tomatoes in space-like conditions for their ketch-up. The Marz edition, cultivated in similar soil, temperature and water conditions found on the Red planet, is ready for take off this week.

The Heinz team spent nine months with 14 astrobiologists at the Aldrin Space Institute at Florida Tech, US, and simulated the cultivation of tomatoes on Mars. They eventually yielded a crop of their proprietary tomato seeds successfully.

Dr. Andrew Palmer, who led the team from the Aldrin Space Institute explains: “Before now, most efforts around discovering ways to grow in Martian-simulated conditions were short-term plant growth studies. What this project has done is look at long-term food harvesting.”

Palmer says that achieving a crop of this quality was a “dream result.”

“Working with the tomato masters has allowed us to see what the possibilities are for long term food production beyond Earth.”

The ketch-up experiment

Heinz ketch-up is a favorite among astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and Mike Massimino, a veteran of two space flights, four spacewalks, and the first astronaut to ever tweet from space will be the ambassador of the Marz edition.

“In space we have a saying, ‘it’s not about the food it’s about the sauce’ – we could choose what food we wanted to eat up there but lots of the dishes came dehydrated and a little bit bland, so a good dollop of sauce always made your meals delicious,” says Massimino.

The ketch-up experiment was conceptualized two years ago by Heinz’s “tomato masters” and is one of their largest projects to date. The finicky aspect of the experiment was picking the right seeds and using the most productive agricultural techniques.

The Marz Edition is not yet available bottled but a batch was unveiled at the company’s headquarters in Pittsburgh, US. The sauce will undergo rigorous testing before being bottled. Earlier this year, the company conducted an experiment to test how ketch-up is associated with the Heinz brand.

Cristina Kenz, chief growth officer for Kraft Heinz International Zone says: “From analyzing the soil from Martian conditions two years ago to harvesting now, it’s been a journey that’s proved wherever we end up, Heinz tomato ketch-up will still be enjoyed for generations to come.”

The Aldrin Space Institute team has submitted the first of three papers for scientific publication that charts the mission.

ESG investments

In addition to studying how to grow tomatoes in Mars-like conditions, the Kraft Heinz Company continues to invest in environmental social governance (ESG) goals including using 100% sustainably sourced Heinz Ketchup tomatoes by 2025.

With 2020 net sales of approximately US$26 billion the company aims to grow their food and beverage brands globally.

Edited by Inga de Jong


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