“Throughout our 100 years of history, we have had no specific strategy other than to breed good seed varieties,” explained Tokita's CEO, Ike Tokita. “There's no trick to staying in business for such a long time; as long as you breed something good, then you have a chance at building a good business. That's the life of a seed company.”
Throughout its history, times have changed, the industry has evolved and technology has made some things much easier. But the important things about seed development remain the same, according to Tokita. New technology can help identify genetic markers, for example, but that's only a small part of developing a good seed.
“The breeding process is still largely the same as it was in the time of my grandfather,” he explained. “You need to have an idea of what traits you want. You have to study the market, ask consumers what they want and give growers what they need. The new technology can help with 10 percent of the process, but 90 percent of this is still the same.”
That's not to say that the company is not looking ahead. There are projects in the works, for example, to augment tomato programs in Europe and the United States. The idea is to retain the good flavor profiles that consumers want while adding traits that growers find especially helpful when it comes to transportation and logistics. But even when looking ahead, the company relies on lessons hard-learned throughout its century of existence.
“It's very challenging to develop a seed for Europe, for example, if you don't have a facility in Europe,” said Tokita. “You may be able to do it in Japan, but it will take longer and it will be harder.” To that end, Tokita has companies all over the world. While the Japanese population may be shrinking and agricultural companies compete for a smaller market, the world population is growing rapidly, and that's why a global presence is important.
“We set up our own company in Chile because that's where we produce a lot of our seeds,” noted Tokita. “Being there offers better control over our quality, and that regional presence has been a part of our strategy for the last 10 or 20 years.”
Though now a global company, Tokita Seed continues to practice the lessons it has learned from its past in Japan. In a time when companies are bought, sold and acquired with increasing frequency, for example, Tokita believes in the stability of retaining the essence of a company and its people.
“We will just continue to work hard and breed better seed varieties and we hope we can continue to do that for another 100 years," ended Tokita.
For more information:
Tokita Seed Co., Ltd. (Japan)
Tel: +81 (0)48‐686-7235
Fax: +81 (0)48‐688-1167
mobile: +81 (0)80-8727‐2250