3 years ago

The Partnership no. 17

  • Text
  • Products
  • Growers
  • Variety
  • Breeding
  • Vegetables
  • Consumers
  • Varieties
  • Partnership
  • Zaden
  • Enza

ones – and

ones – and polytunnels, producers can grow more high-quality crops and specialities produce at home, like tomato, sweet pepper and lettuce. This puts products that are less successful in open field production within reach and makes offerings more predictable due to the decreasing influence of weather conditions. Fewer formalities Hardouin and Sevenster are keen to see this development continue. That’s not easy, because loans are expensive. What’s more, importing advanced cultivation technology is very complicated. “Brazil is a wonderful country full of opportunities for entrepreneurs, but it also has a massive and complicated bureaucracy,” the general manager says. “We also have to contend with it, in the form of time-consuming procedures and formalities.” Region manager Sevenster adds: “A global company like ours benefits from a liberal trade environment. Ultimately that’s also better for our customers, who want access to the best varieties as quickly and economically as possible. Having fewer formalities at the border is also good for international fresh produce chains. Fresh produce has a limited shelf life, and efficient chains go a long way towards reducing the substantial food losses.” Diverse eating cultures At present, the demand for new, often relatively expensive vegetables is limited to the wealthier parts of the population living in and around the cities. The vast interior and rural areas are both more thinly populated and less well off. On top of that, the longer logistics lines impact on product shelf life. “As far as their eating habits are concerned, Brazilian consumers are not the most adventurous,” Hardouin remarks. “The other side of the coin is that there are a range of cultural niches in this country stemming from its rich legacy of immigration. Besides strong Portuguese and African influences, there are also Italian, German and Japanese strands, for example. All these also offer opportunities for extending the product range. And these days, the younger generation in particular are discovering new cooking styles, dishes and ingredients much more quickly and more intensively through travel and social media. All things considered, therefore, there is plenty of fertile ground for new market launches.” Demand for resistant varieties Growers also have their wish lists. There is a great demand for varieties with more resilience or resistance to major pests and diseases. Sevenster: “This demand is nothing new, of course, but it is also being boosted by restrictions on chemical crop protection products and the general desire to make agricultural production systems more sustainable. Understandably, breeding companies are paying a lot of attention to this.” Resistance delivers clear added value for growers. Among the varieties Enza Zaden Brazil has successfully launched - partially thanks to their resistance properties - are Bremia resistant iceberg lettuce Ludmilla, the pink root resilient onion variety Rachelle (5605) and the tomato PaiPai, which combines resistance to spotted wilt with excellent yields. Other successful introductions are the cherry tomato Bosco and the cantaloupe-type melon Konquista. “Melons are a major export product for Brazil and account for a large growing area,” Hardouin adds. “Konquista produces a strong crop and very flavoursome fruits with a long shelf life. It has really put the company on the map in this segment. Hopefully we’re able to continue to build on this position with additional introductions, including in other types of melons.” Breeding for the tropics However, these won’t be coming out of the R&D kitchen at the Holambra breeding station any time soon. The team of 15 dedicated breeding and selection specialists is focusing primarily on tomato, sweet pepper and leafy vegetables. “Their efforts not only benefit the substantial domestic market,” Sevenster points out. “Enza Zaden carries out breeding work at various places in different climate zones. Each station has its own portfolio of crops and breeding objectives centred around aspects such as climate, cultivation methods and, of course, consumer preferences. We also have several breeding sites in the tropics and subtropics. Holambra may have a limited crop portfolio, but it is leading the way for future innovations in all countries with similar climatic and growing conditions. Markets Long-term relationships Brazilian growers generally place great value on long-term relationships with their suppliers. Designated contact persons with an in-depth knowledge of the market, the product and the customer’s business are highly valued but very scarce. “In this country it’s quite rare to spend your entire working life at the same company,” says Jean-François Hardouin, General Manager of Enza Zaden Brazil. “If a Brazilian gets tired of their job, if they could earn more somewhere else, or even if they just don’t feel like doing it anymore, they will quite happily resign. Let’s say it’s just part of the culture. But employee turnover at Enza Zaden is exceptionally low. I think this has to do with the nature of a well-managed family business that is used to investing in its people. It’s quite remarkable that we have been able to sustain this after decades of strong growth and internationalisation. It’s also very positive, because a stable foundation enables you to build stronger houses.” Its more than 210 million inhabitants form a melting pot of cultures and eating habits from both the old and new worlds. “Brazil is a wonderful country full of opportunities for entrepreneurs.” Jean-François Hardouin 10 | The Partnership The Partnership | 11

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