Spain is currently the EU's largest producer and exporter of peppers, with approximately 750,000 tons sold each year in Europe's main supermarket chains and large stores.
One of the main reasons for this leadership is the innovation and development of new, more resistant varieties. Thanks to these advances in plant improvement, Spain is currently the only country capable of ensuring a stable, year-round pepper production.
As regards the organic production, in the case of horticultural crops, it is growing year after year. This increase is estimated at more than 10% for the majority of crops, including peppers. Approximately 75,000 tons of the total production correspond to organic peppers.
This growth is a consequence of the rise in the demand among European consumers, who are increasingly interested in knowing more about the products they eat, including who produced them, where, how and in what environmental conditions.
With the aim of offering solutions to consumers, supermarkets, cooperatives and producers, Syngenta and Zeraim have been working on the development of more resistant and better adapted organic varieties. Syngenta and/or Zeraim's "tougher" varieties account for approximately 30,000 tons of the total organic pepper production.
In the framework of their research programs on pepper plant improvement, Syngenta and Zeraim have developed 16 extra resistant varieties, some of which have already reached flagship status in the main producing areas of Almeria and Murcia. Currently, with these varieties, producers are able to cover the demand for organic peppers all year round.
The main lines of investment in plant innovation in peppers are now very focused on improving the crops' resistance and make them more sustainable and more adequate to meet the needs of the entire production and distribution chain, and of course, of the consumer.