Following an in-depth investigation, the European Commission approved on Wednesday 21st March the proposed €56 billion buyout of US agri-giant Monsanto by German chemical firm Bayer, after securing concessions from Bayer. The deal will create the world’s largest integrated pesticides and seeds company and has raised concern among activists. “We have approved Bayer’s plans to take over Monsanto because the parties’ remedies, worth well over €6 billion euros, meet our competition concerns in full,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief.
Brussels made the decision despite opposition by environmentalists who fear that the deal gives too much power to the world’s leading manufacturers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the controversial weedkiller glyphosate. EFA food safety spokesperson Bart Staes said, “This merger is bad news for farmers, our environment and food security. The agriculture industry is already far too concentrated, giving a handful of massive firms a stranglehold on food production. Merging two of the biggest players only makes a bad situation worse.”
The takeover, which had already been approved by Chinese authorities, still awaits approval by US regulators, who have also expressed concerns. Among the concessions obtained from Bayer is the sale in October of parts of Bayer’s agrochemical business to German rival BASF. The deal will see Bayer sell the majority of its crop seeds units and its glyphosate herbicide business to BASF for €5.9 billion. BASF also committed to buying Bayer’s vegetable seed business.
During the open day on June 3 in its Tomato Experience Centre in ‘s-Gravenzande, De Ruiter Seeds showed its visitors as many as 350 different tomato varieties, mostly De Ruiter Seeds varieties.
“It offers the visitors the opportunity to compare results under similar growing conditions,” said Nico van Vliet, trade partnership manager for Benelux and Germany. Data was also shared on production progress and average weight.
Wageningen University analysed the tomatoes on taste and shelf life, resulting in exchangeable data.
The open day also offered the opportunity to share market trends with visitors. Van Vliet said the segment of tomatoes under 20 grams is growing, as is that of truss tomatoes above 100 grams, but the segments in between are having a hard time – unless it is a truly special tomato.
According to De Ruiter Seeds – where vegetable varieties are bred traditionally – tomato varieties that offer either cheap tomatoes or the best taste and presentation combination are currently in demand.
During the breeding process Monsanto focuses on an optimal connection to market demands.
Exclusive plums on the vine
With that in mind De Ruiter Seeds introduced Sevance, a tomato on the vine in the medium segment, that combines very good taste and colour with a high yield. It also has excellent resistance against IR mildew.
“In all segments we offer varieties with IR mildew resistance without compromising on other qualities,” Van Vliet said.
With the introduction of two new flavourful tomatoes, De Ruiter Seeds is also introducing a new segment. The DRTC 1003 and DRTC 2890 are mini and midi plum tomatoes on the vine.
“These are produced exclusively in North-West Europe and introduced in all of Europe,” Van Vliet said. With the fact that the plum tomatoes remain attached firmly to the vine throughout the shelf life, De Ruiter Seeds addresses a hidden frustration of the consumer and optimises customer satisfaction, thus stimulating repeat purchases.