Lately, I have been looking at agriculture; comes as no surprise really because that domain is worth it. If you follow my articles a lot you will also know that I usually mention horticulture as a great agricultural business idea. Zoning in on that I have underscored how vegetable farming is an excellent fit especially here in Zimbabwe. In case you did not know, tomato farming is the top vegetable farming activity in Zimbabwe. I have noticed that many people are solely focused on just the farming aspect. Little do most people know that more money can be realized from adding value to the tomatoes. One way to do that is tomato sauce manufacturing which is what this article is all about.


Several products can be made from tomatoes. The common ones are tomato sauce, tomato puree, tomato pulp, and tomato juice. This article obviously deals with tomato sauce specifically. However, you might want to know basically how the aforementioned are made.

The processes are more or less the same because it entails tomato juice extracts being concentrated (typically in a vacuum) under varying conditions. For making tomato sauce, the juice is placed in those conditions but with some unique processes. One, the temperature will have to be controlled during the concentration. As this is being done the necessary ingredients will be gradually and systematically added. Some of the common ingredients are vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices – just to mention a few. This will be followed by boiling till the required percentage tomato solids are reached. Thereafter a filtering process will come, then cooling, and addition of preservatives comes after.

Just so you know you can manufacture your tomato sauce as a home-based small scale business. Alternatively, you can do it on a medium to large scale which would require a considerably larger place to operate from. There are two major differences between these two approaches. With a home-based operation, there will obviously be smaller quantities produced. However, it is much easier to come up with superior quality due to those smaller quantities. The converse is also true when it comes to bigger operations.

That is why tomato sauce produced at small scale is being more preferred than most industrial-scale produced tomato sauces. Usually, it is because preservatives are not used here which tends to compromise taste – a major aspect of overall quality. Ironically these home-based sauces are eclipsed by the industrial-scale ones due to capital muscle and mass production. Be that as it may leverage on the fact that more and more are looking for home-made, home-grown tomato sauces as opposed to the traditional brands.

The choice for either home-based or otherwise tends to be informed by the equipment requirements. Bigger operations require more capital due to the material required. You will notice that when I detail the key requirements in a moment.

Key Requirements

There is a wide range of equipment or machinery required for tomato sauce manufacturing. Before I get into that it is obvious that tomatoes will be one of your core requirements. You will even find industry standards applying to the kind of tomatoes you must use for manufacturing tomatoes. Typically the types of tomatoes required must be fully ripe. The variety of tomatoes to use also must be strategic. Some tomato varieties have a richer taste than others thus if you are deliberate about your choice you can transcend other players.

Equipment or machinery is a lengthy list but will depend on your scale and approach. Some of the equipment you might need is pulping machines, grinding machines, label machines, pasteurising tanks, exhaust and processing tanks, utility equipment (e.g. tables, utensils) – just to mention a few. You can contact a South African company called Zhauns – they have the necessary equipment for sale.

Human Capital

This is largely informed by scale and sophistication of production. Whichever way you might need at least 5 hands on deck for this business.

Financial Capital

A considerable amount of money will be needed to source tomatoes, equipment, ingredients and so on. The individual machinery required can range from as low as US$80 to around US$4000 or more.


The market is inexhaustible, you just have to do your homework and know which market segments to target. If you choose the path of the home-made, preservatives-free tomato sauces then you must push your product fast. This is because the shelf life will be quite short. Let this not deter you though because you can be strategic about your target market. You can target market segments where tomato sauce is heavily consumed. Examples of such segments can be fast food outlets, restaurants (basically the catering industry), institutions with canteens, and so on. That way the tomato sauce will most likely be consumed way before it nears expiry. Again that can reduce the turnaround period such that you get to receive order requests more frequently.

As for the other approach then your core aim must be to saturate the market. This means you will be aiming to establish yourself in the market as a formidable brand. This means you will have to enter supply agreements with clients like supermarkets, wholesalers, retailers, and the like. You will have the advantage of numbers and longer shelf life which gives you the comfort of targeting such clients. You will also have considerable liberty to come up with price points that are favourable to consumers thus becoming a favourite. These are the two broad considerations to look at regarding market dynamics.

Bear in mind that there industry standards about tomato sauce just like any other tomato product. One of the key attributes that must adhere to those industry standards is the percentage of total solids. For tomato sauce, it can be an average of 25 per cent. This is just one example but you must ensure you come with tomato sauce that is consistent with industry standards.