Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber

You are using software which is blocking our advertisements (adblocker).

As we provide the news for free, we are relying on revenues from our banners. So please disable your adblocker and reload the page to continue using this site.

Click here for a guide on disabling your adblocker.

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber
Bayer Crop Science to connect grower-marketers and retailers:

"Growers in the U.S. often have their own B2C brands, something that isn’t very common in Europe yet"

These days, the role of a breeder is not just to produce seeds. Bayer Crop Science is no exception, of course. At this year's Fruit Logistica, we spoke with Andrew Burchett, Global Strategic Accounts Lead, and Nico van Vliet, Global Value Chain Development Lead, about this.

Connecting across continents
Andrew tells us about a great opportunity that he sees throughout the value chain. "We connect the grower-marketers and the retailers. As an example: one retailer is focused on one country, with one SKU supplied from seven countries on four continents. That's both a challenge and an opportunity, when you have a global company with knowhow and capabilities to provide the genetics that fit."

Differences and overlap across markets
With his global perspective, Andrew knows what approach to take in markets that can be very different. "In Europe, the market is quite fragmented, while in the U.S. it's much more consolidated. Still, the same things are important in both: consistent quality, excellent varieties, and year-round supply."

That means at Bayer, they may scale their capabilities or apply them differently, Andrew elaborates, "but it's the same basic needs when we're talking about the value chain. Especially in the glasshouse market there's a lot of overlap. We get very excited when we get something that's wonderful in Europe, and then somewhere in Asia or the Americas we can find a new home for them in the market."

Another aspect that's different between Europe and the U.S., Nico adds, is that the distance between growers and retailers is much shorter in the latter region. "In Europe, the chain is much longer." The markets are also quite different when it comes to branding: "Growers in the U.S. often have their own B2C brands, something that isn't very common in Europe yet."

Creating solid marketing concepts with a global view

Apart from connecting growers and retailers, another key role for modern breeding companies is developing marketing concepts. An example Andrew gives is the Strabini, a 'strawberry-type' truss tomato that's been successful in Europe, he says. "We developed that specifically for Europe, but now we've given it a market extension in North America, in this case with a strategic grower account as a partner. What we do in such cases is look at the value chain, through the eyes of a consumer, see what's available on the shelf and identify what markets would be interested in this."

What's been really helpful in developing those global concepts, Nico adds, is the De Ruiter Experience Center. Based in Bleiswijk in the Netherlands, it's really internationally oriented. "We get visitors from around the world there, and we show them the varieties, they can taste, it's a perfect place for that – in two hours we can show them everything."

Seeing what the consumer sees
Elaborating on that, Andrew adds: "Actually taking a look and seeing statistically what the assortment is, what the price ranges are, the countries of origin, is it organic, labelling and packaging – that matters, because that's what the consumer sees. The consumer is the last buyer that you must ultimately influence – it's the total efforts of our whole value chain."

Split-second decision making
One way Bayer contributes to convincing the consumer, is with a new tool Nico describes. "With it, we help the consumer decide in a split second which tomato they want to buy. We developed a concept, kind of like in the wine industry or with Nespresso, for example, where the consumer can see in two or three words: I need this tomato for lunch, or for snacking, or for dinner. That's something we would like to offer to retailers: to help consumers decide on their menu for the week."

Strawberries on the horizon
This concept for tomatoes has now also been rolled out in melons. And if there is an added value to develop this for strawberries, we'll do this as well. "The strawberry value chain is new. Right now our breeders are working on improving the disease resistance for the Malling programme that we bought. Based on that, we will develop new varieties as well."

Investing in the entire value chain
In summary, Bayer Crop Science invests not just in glasshouse varieties, but also in positioning at the retailer and getting the right product to the right consumer. One step that's taken in this respect is regular contact with retailers, in close collaboration with our value chain partners. Nico: "In the coffee department, Nestlé is on the phone with the supermarket almost every week, same with Unilever for the deodorant department. But in fruit and vegetables, this hardly happens. We're planning on changing that together with our value chain partners."

For more information:
Bayer – Crop Science
Andrew Burchett
Tel.: +1 314 694 3550
Mob.: +1 202 689 9774

Nico van Vliet
Tel.: +31 10 529 2222
Mob.: +31 6 2303 4317