I'm experimenting with different brands of canned tomatoes and I just bought some Italian peeled tomatoes, the brand it Petti. Here is a image of the can.

I was looking into what variety of tomato was used in it, but I couldn't find this info anywhere on the can... nor is it explicitly stated on the website for this particular product.

Unless it's otherwise stated (such as san marzano), what variety should I assume is used in Italian canned tomatoes? I'm leaning towards assuming they are Roma. Or is this unusual that the variety of tomato is not listed on the can?

Note: I'm living in Europe, in case that is relevant for EU foodlaws.

  • 4
    Roma these days is more a category -- an Italian plum tomato ... so based on the shape of the can, yes, it's a fair bet to call them that.
    – Joe
    Jan 30, 2019 at 19:36
  • 1
    I just checked a can of UK chopped tomatoes. The Ingredients list starts: Ingredients: Chopped tomatoes... I'm guessing there is no law that they must specify the type. I'd bet it's also not necessarily always the same type, or even a blend in any given can.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 30, 2019 at 19:40

2 Answers 2


Based on what they say on their web page they use both early and late varieties. The type of tomato therefore probably changes throughout the canning season. Since they source their produce locally (they are based in Livorno) I would guess that two of the varieties are Pisanello and Perino (the last variety is similar to Roma).

Here's an overview of the most cultivated varieties in Tuscany (in Italian).

  • That seems like a rational explanation as to why they cannot, and thus do not, specify the variety. I'll wait a little longer to see if there are any other insights. If not, I'll consider this the best answer. PS, the product page is down for me... not sure why.
    – RTbecard
    Jan 31, 2019 at 14:30
  • Usually when an ingredient is not specified it means they can't because it's more than one; same with olive oil
    – Luciano
    Feb 1, 2019 at 10:59

There are large numbers of varieties that fit into the description of Roma or San Marzano styles, and those two well known varieties are now used more to represent the style and include things like Amish Paste, Sausage, and a long list. They are typically elongated as you have pictured, have a high flesh to seed ratio and distinct seed compartments that allow for easier separation of seed and flesh. Most also have less juice than many tomatoes not intended for pastes and sauces and are typically marketed as paste tomatoes. San Marzano is probably considered by most the classic with Roma well known and a bit more of a cross-over used often fresh in salads as well. The many other varieties are attempts to improve productivity, increase sizes, stretch the season, add disease resistance and adapt to climates. Most will compare their taste to the San Marzano as the standard though, and if your can is a product of Italy, their is a good chance that variety was used or one of its very close crosses as traditional farmers tend to be very reluctant to change off of traditional varieties.

ETA: From comments, it appears that restrictions on the San Marzano labeling is fro the DPO label which restricts production to only the Valley del Sarno region, and those do indeed carry a very high price and hefty fines for fraud. Other Italian produced SM's are still premium priced but much more reasonably at least in the US. That would tend to indicate more moderately priced would be a mix or another relative attempting to get close to the same taste, while possibly picking up some advantages like determinant nature of plant and more modern disease resistance.

  • 1
    I'm skeptical that these are san marzanos, or a related strain. I've noticed that cans which specifically advertise "san marzano" or close varieties to them typically come with a steep price jump (Dutch grocery stores, don't remember exact costs off the top of my head). Am i correct in assuming that San marzanos and closely related strains are just more expensive than others (either due to demand on production costs?).
    – RTbecard
    Jan 31, 2019 at 16:24
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    @RTbecard true San Marzanos may actually fall under some of the EU production protection rules and be restricted to not only variety but also production location. That is, if the same tomato is grown just outside the area, it may be against the rules to market it by name. They certainly are grown in the US and sold as such fresh, but may be restricted to market them canned as such. It is an older variety with have some production issues. For one they are indeterminate. Most paste tomatoes are determinant so that the majority of the fruit ripens at about the same time reducing harvest costs.
    – dlb
    Jan 31, 2019 at 19:11
  • So yes, it may well be that they do not meet the true San Marzano definition, but one trying to come close.
    – dlb
    Jan 31, 2019 at 19:14

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