1 year ago

ThePartnership no. 16

  • Text
  • Tomato
  • Vitalis
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Organic
  • Breeding
  • Varieties
  • Partnership
  • Zaden
  • Enza

Sweet shop full of

Sweet shop full of Healthy snacks “The demand for the slightly smaller flavour tomatoes has increased significantly”, according to Martijn van Stee, who directs the tomatoes breeding programmes for small tomato varieties. “Our variety Campari has enabled us occupy a strong position in the cocktail segment for some time now. In 2011, we started diverting our Four years ago, Enza Zaden started a specific breeding programme for small sized flavour tomatoes. Some of these new varieties are already available in the stores and there are more to follow. “This rapid success is thanks to three factors: consumer insights, perfect teamwork and the use of technology”, according to Crop Breeding Manager Martijn van Stee. The market for fresh tomatoes has undergone a radical metamorphosis in the past 25 years. The traditional round and beef tomatoes were joined by cocktail and cherry tomatoes, and loose tomatoes were joined by tomatoes on the vine. The fruiting vegetable became popular as a healthy snack and flavour became a deciding factor in purchases. energy to snack tomatoes, a segment that was already expanding strongly and has since matured. We saw plenty of room for innovation in the field of the real specialties: the fine tomatoes with unusual colours and richer flavours. We set up a programme four years ago to expand the diversity in our portfolio to include new shapes and colours.” Broad approach Martijn van Stee and Senior Breeder Gianplacido di Rosa, based in Sicily (Italy), worked together with Marketing & Sales and the Technology Department to compose an extensive list of requirements and wishes and to start this long-term project. The bar was set high from the outset. The primary objective of the cross-breeding and selection programme was to produce shapes and colours that were missing from the fine flavour segment, or only available to a limited extent. “Nobody would want to buy more of the same, you really need to distinguish yourself”, the Crop Breeding Manager explains. A second condition was that the tomatoes have excellent flavour. Last but not least, the new varieties had to offer added value from the grower’s perspective. In other words: productive from early in the season to late, easy to work with and not susceptible to diseases. Sweet shop in Sicily The subsidiary in Sicily was chosen as the breeding station. Di Rosa has access to a wide variety of breeding stock for cultivated and wild tomato varieties, which he jokingly calls 'the company’s sweet shop'. “From this stock I selected the breeding parents that - in our opinion - could result in unusually shaped or strikingly coloured fine flavour tomatoes”, the passionate Italian explains. “We used good red varieties as a starting point, crossed the parents of these varieties with yellow varieties and back-crossed “The demand for the slightly smaller flavour tomatoes has increased significantly” Martijn van Stee the offspring repeatedly to form lines with stable characteristics. These were then sent to Enkhuizen in the form of leaf samples, to be screened in the lab for the desired characteristics.” Technology ensures acceleration Van Stee adds: “In a traditional breeding process, you primarily evaluate the phenotype and you need to wait after each breeding round until the plant has developed sufficiently to bear fruit. DNA analysis and marker technology have accelerated this process significantly. Using gene markers, we were able to determine even for very young plants whether they would have the desired colour and resistances and whether they would be susceptible to tip rot or growth tears during fruit ripening. Ultimately, you also have to evaluate the fruit and a new variety needs to prove its worth under practical conditions in the field compared to its competition. However, by combining traditional breeding techniques in Sicily with the laboratories in Enkhuizen, the time required for the first part of this process was shortened by at least 1.5 years.” Product 4 | Partnership Partnership | 5

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