They are referred to as the ‘rock stars’ of New Zealand’s tomato industry for their “buzz pollination” (thousands of good-natured bumble bees pollinate every vine, the way nature intended), but now there’s a new buzz in the tomato world.

Bee-pollinated tomato brand Beekist® is getting a packaging makeover and it comes in the form of cardboard, replacing their plastic punnets. The move will remove 5.5 million plastic punnets from supermarket shelves or 100 tonnes less plastic that Kiwis take home every year.

The cardboard punnets will be home to the range of Beekist® tomatoes including Angel®, Tasty Mix™, Jellybean™, Melody™, Heritage, Farmers Harvest, Sunshine Mix, Chefs Selection and the new Kumato®.

The move to more sustainable punnets, which are 98% plastic free, is part of the company’s commitment to the environment and the belief that the less tinkering you do to Mother Nature, the better.

A 100% cardboard punnet is in the pipeline, as part of their sustainability journey, but in the meantime, customers will have to separate and recycle the small plastic window on the punnet individually.

The Beekist ® brand has, at its heart, an old fashioned growing philosophy using recycled rainwater, pollination by good natured bees, and tomatoes hand-picked from the vine – perfect for everyday foodies who want to taste a tomato the way nature intended.

The tomatoes are naturally sweet and flavoursome due to a team of hard working bumble bees who, along with the team, produce the number one selling tomato in the pre-pack category in New Zealand. Tomatoes are a top seller here, second only to potatoes in terms of vegetable spend.

“These little fellas really earn their stripes,” says Andrew Keaney executive general Manager of T&G, “they can pollinate 450 flowers in an hour, and are able to collect 50 times more pollen than a honey bee due to their size. With the help of our friends the bumble bees, we are able to increase the size and quality of our tomatoes.”

“In our glasshouses set amongst the rolling hills of the Waikato and South Auckland, we have around a million tomato plants growing and more than 12,000 bumble bees.

Andrew says sustainable packaging is a major strategic focus for the business and they are building their strategy to ensure they achieve this goal across the business and with our key suppliers.

For less sting on the environment, T&G is encouraging people to separate the window of the punnet from the cardboard before popping the cardboard into their recycle bin and taking the plastic window to their local soft plastic recycle station. Customers can go to to find their local soft plastic recycle station.

The Beekist® range, in new cardboard punnets, are 100% recyclable and will appear in supermarkets across New Zealand from this month.

The buzz on bumble bees

  • They have great eyesight and can easily navigate the natural corridors of our glasshouses
  • Bumble bees have quite the bite – they go for bright colours, so our pickers wear dark clothing while they work to ensure they don’t attract the bees
  • Bumble bees have buzz power – they can easily dislodge the tomatoes heavy, sticky pollen. Honey bees can’t do the same job!
  • Bumble bees prefer warm temperatures, but they were discovered on Mount Everest at more than 5,600 meters (18,400 feet) above sea level, the highest known altitude for an insect