Regarding the first point, Manuel Hernández, the Sales Manager at Rijk Zwaan Iberica explains, “consumers will not repeat their purchase if the flavour isn’t good. We are light years away from the boom of Daniella tomatoes which had high yield, were long-life, kept well etc. but ignored flavour. In this respect we are at opposite poles, because improving flavour is one of the main drivers in seed companies’ research.”
In the same way, recovering old, local varieties that carry the aromas and flavours is also one of the company’s objectives.
Tomato is one of the vegetables that can best take advantage of its own intrinsic qualities to bring health benefits for its consumers. “In other words, tomato is a functional foodstuff, it is rich in anti-oxidants and anti-carcinogenic products such as lycopene etc. are much sought-after today.”
The search for new varieties that can bring added value is another of their future challenges.
“In the end it is differentiation that matters, doing something different from the rest of the pack, with products that are more delicatessen like and organic but which, on the other hand, are equally resistant” explains Hernández.
Despite tomato being one of the most segmented products on the market, Rijk Zwaan’s Manager believes that there is still more segmentation to come because there are many avenues of research still open and “really, what we are looking for is innovation. We cannot ignore those products that are already considered as commodities but it is the segment of specialities that is growing the most each year”.
Rijk Zwaan has some very diverse research projects underway ranging from looking for better solutions for tomatoes in the fresh-cut range, more suitable tomatoes to go with hamburgers, tomatoes for processing or more specific improvements such as increasing the brix degree level or obtaining tomatoes that can last for three to five weeks.
Hernández insists that a good variety has to respond to grower’s needs who of course want high yield as well as to dealer needs who want an attractive product that has flavour and can last, and also to the needs of supermarkets and end consumers. “And Rijk Zwaan is endeavouring to satisfy all levels of the chain: our research is on going to improve many aspects and add value to the product”.