The Florida tomato industry is stepping up its online presence with the launch of its newly designed website, www.floridatomatoes.org.

 The redesign adds functionality to the site for Florida’s tomato producers and shippers, and serves as a platform for interacting with their consumer publics (consumers, retail, foodservice and the media). The change has resulted in a site that has a clean, simple look with more function and easier navigation.

When visitors call up www.floridatomatoes.org, they are greeted by the organization’s culinary ambassador, Florida Chef Justin Timineri, who is prominently featured on the website with his own section featuring his latest Florida tomato recipes and photography, comments and even a Florida Tomato Caprese cooking video with the chef.

“The new website allows us to engage consumers in new ways, including a newsletter ‘The Tomato Dish — Fresh News & Recipes,’ and our ‘Most Delicious Dish’ recipe contest,” says Samantha Winters, director of education for the Maitland-based Florida Tomato Committee. “Within a couple of months more than 60 fantastic consumer recipes have been entered.”

According to the FTC, the site has experienced more than 13,000 page views since its spring launch. Consumer research shows that people love recipes, and with the addition of Chef Justin’s new recipes, it is no surprise the recipe section is the most visited section of the tomato site, followed by the “grower resources” area, “tomato 101” and “news and events.”

Winters says the redesign was also about providing growers with a convenient warehouse of resources.

 “Our growers can visit www.floridatomatoes.org to access industry-funded production and marketing research/presentations, retail scanner data, promotional best practices, newsletters, reports, articles as well as regulatory and food safety information.”

The Committee is also dabbling in social media circles, having launched YouTube http://www.youtube.com/FloridaTomatoes, Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/FloridaTomatoes and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/FloridaTomatoCommittee pages to promote Florida tomatoes’ availability, recipes and to highlight health and tomato wellness research and articles regarding fresh Florida tomatoes.