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Crop genetics hold key to cutting food chain waste

Customer Insights
Andromeda cauliflower
The new Syngenta cauliflower variety, Andromeda, has been selected for exceptional field performance, and traits to reduce waste throughout the value chain

The Syngenta stand at Fruit Logistica will take visitors along a journey to demonstrate how the seeds’ business successfully breed 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. 

Find out more on the Syngenta stand at Fruit Logistica, in Hall 1.2 D-16.

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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), Jérémie, 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.” 

Jeremie Chabanis

Jérémie (above) 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 virtually 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, fertiliser and labour – 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 Jérémie.

“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 minimising waste,” he reported.

Savoy cabbage in field

The opportunity to reduce waste without scarifying 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,” Jérémie enthused.

“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, he 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 at Fruit Logistica

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, Jérémie 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, Syngenta Head EAME Vegetable Seeds (below), believes the whole food experience starts with the genetics of the varieties being produced.

Arend Schot

“The quality of produce binds together relationships and collaborations of individuals and businesses throughout the food chain,” he said.

“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.”

You can now read more of Jérémie’s advice on using genetics to cut food waste in the latest issue of Primeur magazine. Click here

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