What can we look forward to in 2021 from Syngenta?
Jérémie Chabanis: Syngenta is breeding several crops and we will be launching new varieties in all of them, covering grower, supply chain and consumer traits. Some examples include a tomato variety resistant to ToBRFV, which delivers a tangible solution for growers fighting this terrible virus, and Esben and Randall long cucumber varieties in Spain that offer outstanding shelf-life, which in turn cuts down on the need for plastic wrapping. We will also be deploying our award-winning tomato Yoom, which is getting excellent feedback from consumers.
It is important to keep in mind the large consolidation of our ‘mainstream’ portfolio in crops such as lettuce, brassicas, tomatoes, sweet peppers and industrial crops. The market demand for these is stronger than ever given the current situation, and we believe this will remain the case for 2021 and 2022.
What other innovative concepts are you working on?
JC: I would highlight a couple of innovative launches in 2021, such as a new type of cauliflower concept, the first ‘personal size’ round Piel de Sapo Millennium available for local and export in Spain and Italy, and the confirmation of our new Romain lettuce offer, SolidRib, which delivers additional economic performance to the leafy supply chain and helps reduce waste.
What challenges do you expect to face in the coming year?
JC: The Horeca channel has been strongly impacted by the pandemic and our customers are facing considerable challenges in this area. We are trying to support them as best we can with flexible genetic and network support.
On the other hand retail chains are experiencing significant shopper basket growth, which is a great opportunity for the entire fresh produce industry. In this challenging pandemic situation I would highlight the importance of labour-friendly varieties like Zefiros in squash or our Destinica cauliflower portfolio. We have also experienced additional demand in our mainstream portfolio, especially where we are leading in sweet peppers, tomatoes, brassicas and sweetcorn.
What other important changes are taking place at Syngenta?
JC: Over the past few years we have been going through a digital transformation that has substantially impacted our sector. Within our vegetable seeds and value chain activities, we have carefully considered how to strategically respond, become more proactive and turn this threat into an opportunity.
Locally, we have managed to organise many demo field visits based on safe formats given the sanitary situation, thereby strengthening our relationship with customers. On an international scale, we have organised virtual platforms and events allowing us to reach an even wider audience.
While we will continue to develop effective strategies and enhance our digital performance, we look forward to meeting our customers again in the fields and fairs as soon as possible.