Seed companies boost emphasis on consumer benefits

08/15/2012 04:36:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

Among its offerings are PureHeart mini-seedless watermelons, Tuscan cantaloupes as well as specialty tomatoes.

The variety behind PureHeart brand, Petite Perfection, was bred by Xingping Zhang, Syngenta global crop development head of watermelon.

watermelon breeder Xingping ZhangVicky BoydSyngenta Seed's Xingping Zhang oversees the company's watermelon breeding program worldwide. Fascination, the variety he's cutting, has received a lot of interest from retailers and club stores.“We recognized what the grower may want and put it together with the consumer, and we knew the challenges as well,” Zhang said. “We created a new category with more convenience, more flavor and more profit.”

Zhang also is involved in breeding standard-sized seedless watermelons, which he showcased during the company’s annual trials week at its Woodland vegetable research station in mid-August.

What Zhang said he found refreshing were the number of representatives from large grocery chains and club stores who attended and tasted the different varieties.

“I think the people who were here were extremely positive,” he said, adding he heard the comment, “wow, this is exactly what we’re looking for.”

Zhang said he asked the representatives whether they would recommend some of the varieties they tasted to suppliers, and they replied, “No.”

But the retailers did say they could monitor consumer response and repeat purchases through loyalty cards and club membership cards.

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