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Here's some food for thought: Ford and Heinz are teaming up to turn tomatoes into auto parts.

Researchers are investigating the use of tomato fibres to manufacture composite materials used in wiring brackets or storage bins in vehicles, according to a joint press release issued by both companies on Thursday.

"We are exploring whether this food processing by-product makes sense for an automotive application," said Ellen Lee, a Ford researcher, in a statement. "Our goal is to develop a strong, lightweight material that meets our vehicle requirements, while at the same time reducing our overall environmental impact."

Ford began working with Heinz, Coca-Cola, Nike and Procter & Gamble almost two years ago to develop "a 100 per cent plant-based plastic to be used to make everything from fabric to packaging." At Heinz, researchers investigated ways to recycle its waste – "peels, stems and seeds from the more than two million tons of tomatoes the company uses annually" to make ketchup.

"We are delighted that the technology has been validated," said Vidhu Nagpal, a Heinz executive, while conceding that the process still needs to be refined.

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