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Enza Zaden variety showcase report

The 2014 Enza Zaden variety showcase was held September 25th at the company’s research station in San Juan Bautista, California. With 250 local and international growers and retailers in attendance, the partnership-themed event was an opportunity to assess growth potential through a fresh lens fuelled by strong relationships with seed partners; ongoing innovation in varieties, packaging and branding; understanding supermarket produce operations; and ultimately, maintaining awareness of evolving consumer tastes.

Keynote speaker and packaged-produce pioneer Paul Mastronardi, CEO of Mastronardi Produce Inc., set the stage with unique insights into brand-building through quality seed partnerships, highlighting the incredibly successful SUNSET® brand that features Enza Zaden’s ‘Campari’ and ‘Y.E.L.O’ tomato varieties. Next, Executive Chef Todd Fisher of the infamous Tarpy’s Roadhouse, shopped the fertile fields of the Salinas Valley for relevant, healthy and interesting ingredients, and then served up an interactive culinary experience to wake the taste buds of even the most discerning foodies. Finally, the product and research experts from Enza Zaden were on hand to talk crop development, shelf life and consumer trends, as growers and retailers toured the display of lettuce, spinach, arugula, peppers, cauliflower, leek, onion, zucchini, parsley, dill, cilantro, basil varieties, and the largest 100% organic assortment in North America.

“The team put considerable effort into exceeding expectations with this year’s showcase, and I’m very proud of the result. Growers and retailers came away from the event with new insights into gearing production in accordance with consumer tastes, and energized by the potential to grow their current operations through enhanced partnership with Enza Zaden,” said Ton van der Velden, President and CEO, Enza Zaden North America.

Mastronardi spoke of how his company purposely approaches its business as an innovator and trendsetter. “Years ago when marketshare among produce growers was primarily based on size and volume, we developed a strategy focused on the unique appeal of tastier, well-packaged produce. The resulting ‘Campari’ and ‘Y.E.L.O’ tomato varieties derived from our partnership with Enza Zaden have the flavour consumers are looking for, and have established our leadership position in the industry,” Mastronardi said.

The partnership between Enza Zaden and the Mastronardi group is a useful model for all growers and retailers keen to innovate, develop new products and expand their businesses. Partnership examples closer to home include several organic and conventional growers that work with Enza Zaden to develop some of the most easily recognized brands on today’s grocery shelves, including:
  • Earthbound Farm Organic ‘Easy Leaves Butter’ and ‘Easy Leaves Petites’
  • Earthbound Farm Organic Baby Arugula Clamshells
  • Steinbeck ‘Nature’s Reward’ Iceberg
  • D’Arrigo Bros. 3-pack ‘Andy Boy’ Romaine Hearts
  • Taylor Farms Spring Mix
  • Taylor Farms Baby Spinach
  • Tanimura & Antle ‘Artisan’ Lettuce
  • Gills Onions
  • California Endive Farms ‘Organic Belgian Endive’
  • RC Farms Green Leaf
  • Dole Vegetables Green Leaf
  • Wilson Bon ‘Mighty Minis’ Peppers
  • Rocket Farms Organic Potted Basil

“Enza Zaden is well-entrenched in the Salinas Valley, where we demonstrate ongoing commitment to grower success through our robust iceberg, romaine and green leaf lettuce programs, and our speciality market programs in butterhead, oak leaf and lolla rossa. Growers and retailers looking to partner can count on pure, premium quality, high-germinating seed with the needed resistances, extended shelf life, and our ongoing research and variety innovation,” said Nick Barnes, Direct Sales Manager.

With the largest 100% organic assortment in North America, commercial organic growers and retailers can also count on Vitalis Organic Seed, the organic division of Enza Zaden, for the quantity, quality and assortment of premium seed varieties required to develop successful organic operations in the currently $35.1B organic industry.

Erica Renaud, Business Development Manager for Organics and Herbs, indicated partnerships with organic growers to date have been extremely rewarding, a trend expected to continue with new arugula, basil and spinach varieties, and specifically with the company’s unique innovations relevant to organic production systems, including advanced resistance to downy mildew and extended shelf life. “With more than 150 organic varieties, the most in-depth breeding and global seed production program dedicated to organic agriculture, we’re well-positioned to help commercial organic growers leverage the rapid growth of the sector, through partnerships that create the unique and flavourful products consumers are looking for in certified organic form,” Renaud said.
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