Bayer today announced the expansion of its leading Fruits and Vegetables business to strawberries. With the acquisition of the strawberry assets of UK-based NIAB, Bayer will expand its focus on professional protected culture growers to meet the growing consumer and retail demand for year-round, high-quality strawberries and will also have varieties available for open field conditions.
This agreement allows the company's Crop Science Division to provide a broader range of solutions for growers in the expanding protected strawberry market. The strawberry varieties are complemented by Bayer's biological and chemical crop protection products.
Inci Dannenberg, Head of Bayer's Vegetables business: "Strawberries are the fastest growing fruit crop, with year-round demand exceeding supply. In fact, strawberries are the category leaders in the produce aisle, accounting for more than 23 percent of fresh fruit sales," "With Bayer entering the strawberry market, we will offer growers premium genetics combined with innovative crop protection products and digital solutions. The addition of strawberries to Bayer's portfolio is a natural progression that many of our customers are making as well."
NIAB's Strawberry Breeding Programme has been operating for more than 40 years from its roots at East Malling Research Station, which is located in Kent County, UK, and which has long been associated with excellence in horticulture innovation.
"NIAB at East Malling has built a strong foundation in strawberries, supported by more than a century of world-class horticulture research at our Kent site, and we're proud that it will continue with Bayer," said Mario Caccamo, CEO of NIAB. "As well as bringing accelerated innovation to UK growers, Bayer will also make these great-tasting strawberries available to more growers and consumers around the world," says Dannenberg.
By moving to protected cropping, strawberry growers have more control over their environment, crop management, pests, and disease and, in turn, will see clear benefits in fruit quality, harvest security, and consistency. Additionally, plants grown under protection use less water than open-field crops and have the potential for increased retail shelf life as they can be grown closer to the consumer.
With its advanced breeding technologies, Bayer will continue to deliver the advancements consumers, retailers, and growers need. "We have built a strong foundation in precision breeding capabilities and look forward to bringing these approaches into strawberries," said JD Rossouw, Head of Vegetables Research & Development at Bayer's Crop Science Division. "Using these techniques will enable us to continue to advance on the foundation set by NIAB and deliver superior strawberries to our growers and the value chain."
The acquisition is expected to close by January 1, 2024.