New juiceless tomato 'fantastic' for foodservice, says Bayer CropScience
Bayer CropScience is hoping to increase the number of South American markets selling its newly developed juiceless tomato, while also promoting a color-changing melon.
At last week's 22nd International Pepper Conference in Viña del Mar, Chile, two representatives from the company's Vegetables Seeds division told www.freshfruitportal.com what the tomato may lack in some areas it made up for in convenience.
"Obviously this one may not be the best one to eat fresh, but for everything related to foodservice it's a fantastic tomato and has a much longer shelf life," regional head for South and Central America Albert Schulte-Herbruggen said.
Another company representative said the tomato would also be a good ingredient for sandwiches as it would prevent sogginess.
A handful of commercial farms are now growing it in Brazil and Bayer CropScience is in the process of starting up some production in Chile.
The company is also trying to do the same thing in Colombia and Argentina as the markets show 'great potential' for sophisticated tomatoes.
Vegetable seeds general manager Fabricio Benatti said the juiceless tomato had attracted a lot of interest in Brazil due to its marketing flexibility, good fruit quality and soft texture.
Both representatives emphasized that the new product was not genetically modified, but developed using natural breeding techniques.
"Often when people see a product that is a bit different to what they're used to, like a seedless watermelon or a juiceless tomato, they immediately think it must be genetically modified. In all of our work involving vegetable seeds nothing involves genetically modified organisms," Schulte-Herbruggen said.
"It's all natural genetics taken from available material in gene pools, and using those we can create new varieties that perform better in some way - maybe with a different color, or like this tomato, which is a very small tomato but it doesn't have juice and so it's a lot more convenient for some people.
"Nature offers a huge amount of genetic diversity, and geneticists need to know how to play around with it to be able to create good new products."
Bayer CropScience has also developed a melon that changes its skin color when the fruit reaches the desired Brix level, which Schulte-Herbruggen said solved a widespread problem.
"When farmers are harvesting melons it can be really difficult to know when the fruit is fully mature inside, and consumers run the risk whenever they buy melon in the supermarket that it might have been badly harvested and not ripe," he said.
"When they're harvested unripe they can taste awful, like a cucumber."
Schulte-Herbruggen explained that these new products are always developed as a solution to a specific problem in a certain area of the food supply chain.
"So for instance, we think what can we do for the producer? Something that has high yield. With the supermarkets they're going to be more interested in things like shelf life, so maybe they could have a tomato for three or four weeks on the shelves to reduce the amount of produce they throw away," he said.
"For consumers, what do they want? A good taste, good quality, good smell. We need to think 'who in the chain is willing to pay for this benefit?"
Benatti said while sales were currently limited as not too many people knew about the new tomato and melon, he expected demand to grow substantially in the future.
"They're specific markets because they're still fairly new products, but there's huge potential for growth," he said.
"Our products offer more convenience to the end-user and higher quality, and so it a large potential market."