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Crop Genetics Hold Key to Cutting Food Chain Waste

Basel, Switzerland: The Syngenta stand at Fruit Logistica will take visitors along a journey to demonstrate how the seeds’ business successfully breeds exciting and innovative genetics to grow businesses at every step of the food chain. Among the innovations displayed, it is the showcase for Syngenta vegetable seeds varieties selected to help reduce waste across the food chain.

Vegetable variety genetics are the start to the whole food experience. Crucially, they also hold the key to cutting waste at every step of the food chain, according to Syngenta Value Chain Partnership Lead, Jérémie Chabanis.

Speaking at Fruit Logistica 2019 (Berlin, 6-8 February), Mr Chabanis, will highlight how new varieties are being specifically selected and developed with traits that can reduce waste and improve efficiency - from the field, through processing, transport and retail, and on to end-consumers.

“Reducing waste, and the associated financial and environmental costs, is of paramount importance for the food chain,” he said. “Syngenta variety breeding priorities for vegetables now have a major focus on those attributes that will reduce waste and enhance sustainability along the food chain.”

Mr Chabanis cited that, in 2018 field scale trials in the UK, a new Syngenta true-white cauliflower variety, from the company’s Destinica™ product line has, for the first time, produced 100% marketable heads from the crop, compared to a typical 60 to 65% yield from current commercial varieties. The varieties will be available to the market in 2019/20, he added. “High marketable yield dramatically reduces waste in the field and ensures all resources – including land, water, fertilizer and labor – are being used more efficiently and sustainably.”

Furthermore, variety genetics continue to have a hugely significant influence on waste after crops leave the field, pointed out Mr Chabanis.

“The innovative long-stemmed Easy-Broq™ broccoli varieties, such as Monflor, have been developed to reduce trimming of leaves and stems in the processing factory - delivering an exceptional yield for freezing or baby-food and minimizing waste,” he reported.

The opportunity to reduce waste without sacrificing quality has also seen Syngenta breeding of Ultra Firm flesh watermelon transform the global product market. Developing innovative varieties with a trait for better flesh and shelf-life means they can be safely transported, and then be more efficiently processed with virtually no leaching and significantly higher recovery rates.

“It has given watermelon growers access to new fresh cut markets and opened up year-round supply for processors and retailers,” enthused Mr Chabanis. “For consumers, they get healthy and convenient product with great taste, along with longer shelf life that further reduces waste at home.”

At Fruit Logistica, Mr Chabanis outlined Syngenta’s pioneering discovery and development of the hugely successful baby plum tomato market in Europe, which now accounts for over 50% of store shelf area for the sector and delivering 15% growth through high consumer rotation.

Baby plum tomatoes can be produced and marketed with far less waste, compared to conventional types, he reported. “Syngenta vegetable breeding global connections first identified this typology in Asia, and developed the premium varieties, with more reliable yields and lower growing costs.

“Baby plum tomatoes offer better shelf life, with better taste, uniformity and consistent quality. Crucially they are far more compact to make them more efficient and cost effective to transport – and arrive in perfect condition.”

Overall, Mr Chabanis estimated the waste involved in tomato supply, from grower to end consumption, could be reduced by as much as 25% with baby plum varieties, compared to conventional varieties.

Arend Schot, who is responsible for the vegetable seeds business for Europe, Middle East and Africa, underlines Syngenta’s position as the architect of products that enhance food chain experiences, from grower to consumer.

“While we focus strongly on reducing food chain waste and grower performance, our challenge is that, at the same time, we want to boost the consumers’ experiences, such as flavor, appearance and innovation.

“We have now seed breeding teams dedicated to designing and delivering exciting products with benefits for a complete value food chain,” he added. “Making more efficient use of resources, reducing waste and working with the industry to assure supplies of high quality, affordable, produce is core to the Syngenta Good Growth Plan for a sustainable food industry. “We breed genetics to grow your business at every step of the food chain”


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