Group continues to showcase its commitment to leading in tomato breeding through innovation, offering a diverse range of products

Sakata Chocostar tomatoes

Sakata is ramping up its research and development efforts in the EMEA region, focusing on creating the best vegetable varieties. This is according to Stéphane Bucamp, senior product manager tomato at Sakata Vegetables EMEA.

The group is working across all key tomato segments, such as cherry, miniplum, salad, saladette and more, aiming to offer a diverse selection that meets a wide range of tastes and growing needs.

Bucamp says the work is driven by Sakata’s core philosophy, which is about understanding and addressing global challenges like environmental conservation and the need for healthy food.

“This philosophy pushes us to produce tomatoes that stand out for their taste, nutritional value, and how well they grow,” he tells Fresh Focus Tomato. “Our aim is to ensure that each variety of tomato we develop not only meets but exceeds the expectations of everyone involved, from growers to consumers. Sakata focuses on making sure tomatoes taste great, can grow in different environments, and are good for your health.”

This includes tackling ToBRFV, and Sakata is actively tackling this challenge by screening existing varieties for tolerance and developing new ones that can resist the virus.

“With the introduction of varieties like Chocostar F1, Luciestar F1 and Royalstar F1, which confirm consistent levels of tolerance to ToBRFV (intermediate resistance), we’ve made significant progress,” Bucamp continues. “Moving forward, Sakata aims to enhance breeding programmes further, incorporating advanced research to bring varieties that not only resist ToBRFV but also meet the high standards for taste, yield, and environmental sustainability.”

The coming months will see Sakata announce new materials across different tomato segments that will have intermediate resistance to ToBRFV, marking a significant milestone, he confirms.

Meeting diverse needs

There are also many other traits that Sakata focuses on, including yield, fruit quality, and disease resistance to other pathogens, with growers prioritising robustness and ease of cultivation while consumers demand taste, nutritional value, and appearance. “Our breeding programmes focus on meeting these diverse needs, ensuring our tomatoes satisfy all market segments effectively.”

On the consumer side, Bucamp feels that while efforts have been made to highlight the health benefits of tomatoes in recent years, there remains room for enhancing awareness about the nutritional advantages and the diverse range of tomato products available.

Educational campaigns and collaborative marketing initiatives could elevate the profile of tomatoes as a key component of a healthy diet, he says.

One such initiative is Sakata’s La Pandi programme in Spain, a project designed to promote healthy eating among school children, which won Spain’s NAOS Award for its contributions to advancing public health. Such educational campaigns and collaborative marketing efforts play a crucial role in enhancing the perception of vegetables as essential to a nutritious diet.

“Our continuous investment in research and development, coupled with our proactive approach to addressing challenges like ToBRFV, underscores our commitment to excellence in the tomato category,” Bucamp concludes. “We aim to remain at the forefront of delivering innovative solutions that benefit the entire value chain, from growers to consumers.”

This is an interview in the upcoming Fresh Focus Tomato special, produced ahead of the Global Tomato Congress, which takes place on 14-15 May at the Fokker Terminal, The Hague