When it comes to tomatoes, there are choices aplenty. There are numerous varieties of each type of tomato. The Bayer breeding company, too, is ‘guilty’ of this. However, they now also offer a solution for buyers – a toolbox. At the recently held Global Tomato Congress, Customer Marketing Manager BeNeLux Svetlana Tokunova and Global Value Chain Development Lead Nico van Vliet presented this toolbox.
Nico explained that retail category managers currently have quite the hand in deciding which tomatoes will end up on store shelves. However, they often choose based on a feeling. Bayer wants them to use the toolbox to help make a more fact-based selection.
The Bayer team let Global Tomato Congress visitors voice their preferences for different tomato varieties. They also presented a special toolbox.
Based on research, seven flavor profiles were compiled for the toolbox. “These should help people choose. At present, for general consumers, everything in the tomato range is red and available for the same price,” Nico says. The toolbox will expand that view. “Further than just the Brix level, for example,” adds Svetlana.
During the presentation, she invited an audience member to put this to the test. Of the five tomatoes the toolbox contained for this occasion, two were chosen and tasted. Then the participant described the flavors, and Svetlana checked to see what flavor profile matched the variety.
Bayer wants to get the toolbox into supermarkets. “It’s actually a kind of flavor bar,” explains Svetlana. You can put up to seven kinds of tomatoes into the box, but it is not intended to always be full. Nico: “Before visiting the supermarket, you must do some homework and decide which flavors would be a good match. That makes choosing a bit easier.”
That is important since varieties are expected to change considerably due to viral issues. Some varieties will disappear or be replaced by those resistant to, say, the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus. “The toolbox will make it easier to replace varieties and to choose new ones that meet the same flavor profiles,” he says.
All the more reason for Nico to call on fellow breeding companies to join the toolbox initiative. A week after the congress, several appointments with retailers and their suppliers have already been planned, he concludes.