5 years ago

The Partnership no. 7

  • Text
  • Enza
  • Organic
  • Zaden
  • Partnership
  • Tomatoes
  • Varieties
  • Consumers
  • Breeding
  • Products
  • Cultivation

Kees Könst in

Kees Könst in conversation with visitors of BC Hot House & Costco Wholesale from Canada in the Enza Zaden tomato greenhouse in Almería, Spain. Challenges Various requirements imply major challenges for tomato breeders. Take for instance the difficulty of the incompatibility of a tomato’s taste and its shelf life. In large countries such as China and Brazil, where non-heated cultivation prevails, products have to travel enormous distances from growers to consumers. So the varieties intended for such regions must have an excellent shelf life. Generally speaking, with such varieties, shelf life is probably more important than the tomatoes’ taste. The breeders face the challenge of finding a good balance between the two. In regions with heated greenhouses, such as northwestern Europe, Korea, Poland, Canada and nowadays also Russia to an increasing extent, the distances that are to be covered are smaller, and fewer concessions have to be made. A second challenge concerns resistance. Crops in non-heated cultivation have to tolerate a lot more than those grown in heated greenhouses. The former varieties run the risk of being affected by diseases sooner because of the presence of insects, which transmit pathogens. That risk is even greater in the case of crops grown outdoors on account of the fungi occurring in the soil and soil-borne diseases such as bacterial wilt in tropical zones. Kees Könst: “Needless to say that where varieties intended for such regions are concerned, breeders pay extra attention to aspects like shelf life and resistances.” Consultative partners and co-creation Regional chain parties play an important part in product development. Growers, retailers and shippers are invaluable. Shippers, for example, receive tomatoes from various growers and then decide with which varieties they want to proceed along the chain. So if there is one party with a good understanding of what the local market has to offer it’s them. Diversification involves a lot more than colour alone. Also important are quality, shape and how taste is experienced. That’s why shippers play such a pivotal role in introducing distinctiveness further along the chain. This cooperation with consultative partners fosters co-creation. Könst: “Together with our local partners we develop new product concepts on the basis of the chain’s requirements, for example specially selected varieties that are to be sold under a registered brand name. Together we analyse the chain’s demand, create an optimum product and, in some cases, develop a logo and packaging. The varieties sold under that brand will then offer the buyers supplies of a constant good quality all the year round. This creates confidence in the chain. And that has major advantages: the brand awareness makes it easier for the growers to sell their products and they acquire a good reputation, people are more prepared to pay higher prices for the products and, above all, such brands will be strong enough to survive any crisis that may affect the sector. On top of all that, the chain can rely on products of the same high quality at all times. This holds for traders and retailers, and ultimately consumers too. With this constant high quality we create consumer loyalty. A good example is TomAzur®. In this case a strong brand offers the various chain parties certainty. This is very important, and proves to be especially successful in western markets such as Europe and North America.” ® Future What may we expect the future to bring as far as this crop is concerned? First of all, the trend that has started will continue. Branding will become ever more important and diversification, in all aspects of the product, will increase. Something else that Könst points out is that consumers will have less and less time to spend in the kitchen as they get busier and busier. So convenience products such as bags of pre-processed or ready-to-eat tomatoes will probably become increasingly popular. But there is one aspect that is of decisive importance in branding, diversification and the trend of convenience products alike, and that is quality. The tomatoes’ quality must be of a constantly high level, even in bulk production. This is probably the reason for the shift that seems to be taking place from outdoor cultivation to cultivation in which the plants and their fruits are protected with nets or plastic. This is becoming quite common especially in Mexico, Chile and a few other South American countries. Könst: “Developments like this are intensifying the exchange of expertise, data and breeding material between our R&D stations all around the world, which all have their own specialisations. That leads to surprising new lines and increasingly flexible varieties, enabling us all to rise to a higher level together.” "A good example of co-creation is TomAzur®. In this case a strong brand offers the various chain parties certainty." 6 | The Partnership The Partnership | 7

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