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"Thijs Peekstok: "Specialties make shift from niche to commodities"

North America: Taste plays key role in new De Ruiter breeding pipeline

2014 has been a challenging year for North America's greenhouse growers. A lot of these challenges are leading to innovative and positive strategies being applied throughout the industry. Now that most growers in North America are at the end of the old crop and the new crops are about to enter the greenhouses, it's a good moment to sit down with De Ruiter's Thijs Peekstok for an outlook on the new season.

"For the whole year, pretty much, prices have been under pressure for all crops, and growers are looking forward to making a fresh new start with new crops", said Thijs Peekstok, Product and Marketing Manager at De Ruiter. "2014 was a year with strange weather patterns as growers throughout North America experienced different winters and different summers than usual, which made it an irregular season. This made it a challenge to maintain balanced and healthy crops. It was significantly different from other years."

As greenhouses are a controlled environment, growers have almost full control on what is happening inside. But still, the outside weather is the main driver, having a big influence on the state of the crops and the climate inside. "Also, for our breeders it has been a difficult year, because our hybrids in North America could not show their full potential," Peekstok said.

"We are breeding our varieties for the specific climatic conditions on this continent, and this year the overall climate was completely different from what we are used to. Hopefully the next season will be a regular season in which our hybrids can show their full potential. Our team wishes all of the growers success during the crop changes and a very prosperous new season.”

The team of De Ruiter North America during their annual open house in June this year.

Outlook 2015

In regards to an outlook for 2015, Peekstok notices that many of the growers are paying attention to all kinds of innovative strategies. "An important trend in specialities is the shift from niche to commodities. Speciality varieties have been a niche market for a long time, but because of upscaling, they are becoming a commodity."

Peekstok affirms that growers are very innovative when applying different kinds of strategies to stay profitable. Growers try to decrease their cost prices without marking concessions on quality. Some are starting to focus much more on customer demand, with higher quality and more taste. On consumer demand driven production, North America greenhouse growers are ahead of the other regions in the world. Also local production driven by local demand is increasing. "There are a lot of innovative and positive strategies being applied throughout the industry which is why we love being part of it".

As growers are becoming more customer orientated, De Ruiter is also adapting their breeding programs to their needs. Currently their varieties are known as high yielding in the first place. In the new breeding pipeline, yield is still of importance, but taste will play a key role. "Taste and quality have always played an important role, but it will be of even more importance. Every year we experience that the demand for taste and quality is becoming more and more, so we take these characteristics highly into consideration in our breeding pipeline. The commitment Monsanto made to De Ruiter through its large investment in research and development are now starting to show in the pre-commercial stages.”

Eduardo Flores

Recently, Eduardo Flores has joined De Ruiter as Sales Director for Canada, Mexico and USA. According to Peekstok, this new addition to their team will optimize processes even more. "Previously Eduardo was our North American operations manager, and because of that background he will bring a lot of value to our team and will take us to the next level in terms customer service, seed quality and in time delivery".

In the coming week, HortiDaily will highlight some of De Ruiter's current hybrids. We will also share some news that is coming from their breeding pipeline.

For more information:
De Ruiter Seeds
Thijs Peekstok
[email protected]