Local tomatoes in Subway sauce

By Country News

The marinara sauce on your Subway meal is now coming from northern Victoria and southern Riverina.

The big restaurant chain has announced Kagome, based in Echuca, is now the supplier of 1.5million kilograms of the sauce.

The Echuca contract has replaced imported marinara sauce from Kagome’s parent company in the United States.

While the new contract will not immediately lift employment numbers, Kagome said it would give more stability and security to the Echuca operation.

The factory employs about 75 permanent workers and this number grows to more than 200 in the peak of the processing season.

About 3.5million kilograms of tomatoes grown by Kagome or its contracted farmers will be used in the sauce.

Subway’s north-west Victoria development agent Theo Tsianakas said it was exciting to know that one of the brand’s signature menu items would be grown just down the road from the local Echuca Subway shop.

‘‘The tomato marinara sauce, used in our Meatball, Pizza and Chicken Parmigiana subs, will have the same delicious taste and recipe that it’s always had, but will be grown a lot closer to home,’’ Mr Tsianakas said.

Kagome Australia Foodservices sales manager Mitch Austin said having Subway Australia as a partner marked a significant milestone for the business, meaning more job security for Kagome’s 250 workers, along with being able to develop new technology to improve overall quality of its produce.

‘‘The Subway marinara sauce is made from a specific tomato variety, meaning we’ve been able to expand our growth in this particular variety, allowing us to further perfect the rich tomato flavour it delivers.’’

About half of Kagome’s supply is grown by the company on leased land and about half is supplied by contracted farmers.

Kagome also grows carrots for its production line and is considering planting garlic.

Asked about confidence in supply, Subway corporate responsibility manager Ben Miles said the company had worked with Kagome for many years and was confident it would be able to meet the chain’s specifications.

He said the new contract would provide fresher ingredients but with the same recipe and taste.

‘‘We already have a lot of Australian ingredients so this is a natural step.’’

Established in 1965 in Connecticut in the United States, Subway’s first Australian restaurant opened in Perth in 1988. Today there are more than 1350 Subway restaurants across Australia.