The Dutch De Ruiter team usually likes to get the whole chain, including consumers, to visit them every so often. They want people to see and taste their tomatoes. That is not possible now. But the team wants to maintain contact with the chain. That means they have started working digitally - 'Virtual Sampling it is'. Yesterday, Marinice was on the menu. Nico van Vliet says it may well be a renewed Merlice.
More than two years ago, the first tomatoes were harvested in this breeding company's state-of-the-art Experience Center. That was specially set up to allow the entire chain to assess the varieties. From overseas and local growers and traders to retailers and consumers.
The COVID-19 outbreak is now preventing this. The people at De Ruiter think it is a pity. But the breeding facility certainly puts health first. According to Van Vliet, the company's chain manager, the approach is not digital, instead of physical.
For example, the business has developed a 'Virtual Sampling' concept. Chain partners get the best possible view of a new variety. For 90 seconds, this is compared to an existing one. "We want to inform chain partners in an eye-catching, dynamic way," says Nico.
Improved color and flavor
What exactly does that mean? How do you convey that the new Marinice tomato is a huge leap forward? That is in the 'budget commodity' segment compared to the Merlice. "The chain highly appreciates that we could much improve the color and flavor. Especially in the 'budget' category, while retaining the volume yield of the Merlice."
"You cannot taste the tomato virtually. The flesh color of both varieties can, however, be studied. A color chart is used, and the fruit is sliced through. We show the tomatoes' Brix measurements at 1, 4, 7, and 10 days post-harvest too," concludes Nico.
Nico van Vliet
Trade Partnership manager
Rel: +31 (0) 623 034 317