The tomato industry has undergone significant changes in recent years, particularly in terms of the variety of tomatoes available. There has been a focus on developing tomatoes with distinct characteristics, such as taste, which is highly desired by both growers and consumers.
The CEO of Newen Europe Fresh, Juan Cruz, explains that the evolution of the tomato offerings has been influenced by economic phases in the country and Europe. After the economic crisis in 2013, there was a push for growth in the sector. Grupo Newen responded by expanding the variety of tomatoes in the market, moving away from basic varieties and prioritizing flavor, which was in high demand and offered greater profitability.
"Around 2014, our offer reached 14 types of tomatoes, all with different textures and flavors, specific for each use, with which we experienced significant growth until the pandemic", which, as Juan explains, was a turning point. "From then on, consumer habits changed, and not just in the area of food. However, this change was particularly marked for tomatoes. That's why, always according to the requests of our customers, we have focused on working with the four most popular types: our ribbed tomatoes with flavor, the Kamoneti cocktail tomato, and the vine and pear tomato varieties," he stated.
Juan emphasizes the importance of adapting to these changes and adjusting strategies accordingly. He points out that the advantage of tomatoes is that there is an option for every type of demand.
"From large-volume varieties to those that have something different. Today we are fortunate to have a wide range of healthy eating options, which is very positive for the consumers."
The tomato industry has faced turbulence in recent years, exacerbated by the pandemic. In addition to changing consumer dynamics, the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV) emerged as a significant factor affecting production.
Grupo Newen was the first company to report the presence of the virus in the Murcia region in late 2021. Despite the risks, the company took responsibility for communicating this information to the relevant authorities and its customers.
"Even at the risk of being singled out, it was our responsibility to the administration, but also to our customers, to communicate that we had detected it. Having done so allowed us to take charge of the situation."
"Today, it is no longer a secret that companies are affected by the virus, but it is the responsibility of each of them to say so. The virus is transmitted by contact, even bumblebees can pass it from one plant to another, so the plantations neighboring the affected plantations can be affected if producers don't take the appropriate measures."
"The situation is already complicated at the moment, so if we don't take measures, this will become a problem. Some of our farms have been affected by the virus for two consecutive years, which forced us to remove plantations at specific times; we cannot stop producing, so it is a reality with which we must live. Large retailers and customers should be aware of this because there are price increases. In fact, for the second year in a row, we have broken records, and they must know that this is not due to speculation but to the outrageous increase in costs that we have experienced in the last two years and to the virus itself."
Grupo Newen encourages large retailers and customers to be aware of these challenges and understand that price increases are not due to speculation but are a result of the significant cost increases and the presence of the virus in the industry.