In Reply 135 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,10161.msg93419.html#msg93419
, Loo indicated that he thought that Malnati's may be using the "a Gradito" tomatoes from San Benito. When I read that, I decided to call the Neil Jones Food Company, the company that cans the San Benito line of tomato products, to see if I could get some information out of them about the tomatoes that Malnati's uses. The customer service rep said that I would have to talk to someone in my area and referred me to a broker just outside of Dallas who brokers the San Benito products.
I ended up speaking with the fellow who runs that brokerage. He has been brokering tomatoes for over 20 years and seemed to know just about everything about canned tomatoes. I told him that I was assisting someone else who was trying to make a deep-dish pizza using tomatoes such as used by Malnati's. He was not familiar with Malnati's but I filled him in on the pertinent details. He said that it is very common for companies like Malnati's to have tomato products tailored to their specs, usually by inviting customers out to the cannery and giving them all kinds of samples and combinations to try out. As a result, a given product might differ from the standard line of tomato products. He said that if such was the case, he would most likely be prohibited from giving me any proprietary information on that product if he was able to find out what Malnati's is using. On the chance that Malnati's was using a standard San Benito product, I described the Malnati's tomatoes and offered to email him a link to the Malnati YouTube video at
. That way he could see the tomatoes used to make the pizza in that video and be able to see the composition, texture, consistency and color of the tomatoes. He said that he thought he could tell me what the product was just by looking at it.
Today, I received a reply to my email. Based on the video, I was told that the tomatoes "look like" the a Gradito San Benito tomatoes and are "similar to" the Kitchen Style tomatoes (also a San Benito product). One of the differences is that the a Gradito tomatoes contain calcium chloride whereas the Kitchen Style tomatoes do not. The ingredients list I saw for the Malnati's pizzas do not list calcium chloride. I had earlier mentioned the a Gradito tomatoes during the course of our telephone discussion, and especially the use of heavy juice rather than puree. I was told that heavy juice has a Brix number of about 6-6.5. Above that, apparently you are in "light puree" territory. The a Gradito tomatoes are the fresh-pack variety, which confirms what scott r told us recently.
Before I forget, when I mentioned to the broker that Malnati's had about 30 outlets, he said that it was likely that a chain that size would have only one supplier. However, he acknowledged that there are back-up suppliers that could step in to help a chain the size of Malnati's.