Ofer Ben Zvi, TomaTech:

"Innovation is not only genetics"

Until now this pioneering tomato seed company has been relatively unknown in the horticultural industry, but now with the launch of their Toma’Muse concept, featuring a unique collaboration of four well-known produce companies worldwide, Israeli breeding company TomaTech is attracting worldwide attention. At Fruit Logistica, we found out more about TomaTech and their varieties. “No matter what color or size a tomato has, we want to deliver a different eating experience with our tomatoes ” V.P Marketing & business development director Ofer Ben Zvi says.

Breeding company
TomaTech was founded in 2002 by Dr. Favi Vidavski and Zion Cohen, later Ofer Ben zvi joined the two partners to help the company to build marketing capability. Recently AP partners, an Israeli Private Equity house, focus on SMEs growth capital, has decided to invest in Tomatech.

After gaining experience in GSPP seed production, TomaTech has become an authorized GSPP company. They have focused fully on the breeding of high flavor tomatoes for the last decade. Uniting partners in R&D capability, production and sales and by using advanced molecular breeding technology combined with traditional breeding and trial facilities, the company is taking a unique approach on developing new tomato varieties for the high-tech greenhouse market. “Our strategy is not to target the standard/mass segments like the big breeding companies in the industry, but to approach the market in a different way”, Ofer Ben Zvi explains. “We focus exclusively and only on tomatoes because we believe the market wants produce that stands out in taste. Our longer term objective is to create high flavor tomatoes in all sizes, shapes and colors.”

Cooperation for the Toma'Muse concept: Juan Gallego - La Palma, Michael Simonetta, Perfection, Paul Mastronardi, Sunset, Ofer Ben Zvi, Tomatech, Dr Favi Vidavski, Tomatech, Mr J. Daniel Rodriguez, La Palma, Calermelo Salguero, La Palma, Paul Stoffels, Stoffels & Petra Veldman, Stoffels

Bringing product to market
While this might seem like a goal chased by other breeders, TomaTech stands out in the way they bring their product to the market. In their market approach they create the complete concept - which is what the market is asking for nowadays.

For the release of their Toma’Muse variety, a collaboration was created with well-known produce growers Mastronardi Produce (Canada), Stoffels (Belgium) La-Palma (Spain) and Perfection Fresh (Australia). The breeder company (Tomatech) owns the variety while producers own and market the Toma’Muse brand in their respective markets. The Toma’Muse launch follows hot on the heels of their success with their super sweet mini-plum tomato Sugardrop®: In partnership with leading fresh producer Gomez and top retailer, Tesco, a complete brand has been built for Sugardrop® and is sold exclusively through Tesco UK. The variety is expect to grow in EU markets soon. Also on their list: Tomelody, a distinctive yellow pear shaped mini plum under exclusive agreement with Mastronardi for NAFTA.
More than genetics
“Innovation is not only genetics”, Ofer explains. “For example the Toma’Muse is a very distinctive tomato when it comes to taste and shape and the results from consumers are very promising, but there’s more than that in bringing a novelty to the market. We build relationships with our partners throughout the chain. Growers, but also retailers and suppliers like plant nurseries. This way we can create a finished product, surprise retail with it and have them look out for our products. Thanks to building out these direct relationships, we can be much closer to our consumers."

Ofer Ben Zvi (right) with Wilfred Scheffers of Dutch plant nursery WPK, who work together.

Over 50 varieties
The story sounds interesting – but how are the results? Ofer tells us TomaTech currently offers over 50 varieties. “Some are in trial and some are fully commercial. one of our focus is on the high-tech greenhouses market: North America and Western Europe, but also the Mediterranean countries like Italy and Spain. We currently have a big trial at the greenhouse with our partner, Plantfactory in the Netherlands and like to show our portfolio.” And where is this going? Where can we find TomaTech in some years from now? “Our goal is to have people enjoy eating tomatoes everywhere. In this we don’t want to be a niche market company – we focus on larger tomatoes as well for Spain Italy and Turkey. Having people enjoy these again means it is necessary to change the eating experience of the tomato without compromising on productivity in larger tomato size. From a breeding point of view, we’re quite close to reaching this target.”

For more information:
TomaTech Ltd.
Tel:+972 (0) 8 9315920
Fax:+972 (0) 8 9315975
Oppenheimer 5. Park Rabin,
Rehovot 76701, Israel

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