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Recap of Syngenta's tomato congress:

Tomato growers urged to improve retail positioning

Marketing was the keyword at Syngenta's tomato congress in Delft in the Netherlands. Michael Kester, Managing Director Benelux at the breeding company, opened the congress by encouraging lateral thinking. The growers who attended certainly got their fair share of inspiration to improve tomato sales, with the final link in the chain taking center stage: the consumer.

Gerard Barendregt, Syngenta, was the moderator for the day

Category management
Edwin Vels, former category manager, spoke about positioning in the store. He said that growers could very well discuss mutual interest with retailers, in order to optimize categories in stores. "Do prepare yourself well for these talks," Edwin warns.

First of all, he emphasized growers need to understand the retailer's interest. A supermarket wants to maximize its profits. That doesn't mean the grower has no part to play, however. If he is aware of the decision-making process in category management, that is. Decisions in category markets are based on three factors:
  • Environmental factors (e.g. an aging population, emancipation and consumer trends
  • Formula ("know your retailers and their positioning formula")
  • Category (the elements that play a part in the fresh produce category)

Before Edwin started his lecture, he had attendants answer questions in a KaHoot quiz.

"Be aware of the room there is within the category before planning a strategy," Edwin said. For instance, if there are a lot of tomatoes in the fresh produce department already, such an oversupply can lead to "the hassle of choice". Because the consumer can't make up their mind, this leads to a decrease in revenue. "That's not what we want." Edwin advises to think of other opportunities. Instead of conventional tomatoes, there's still room for special soup, salad, stir-fry or snack tomatoes.

Rik Lootens, Renske van der Spek, Michael Kester and Edwin Vels

Lateral thinking
Marketing strategist Renske van der Spek offered some general marketing advice. "Think about what consumers want, then consider how you can offer a solution. Try to find out what they think most important in a weekday meal, for instance: convenience, or something else?" Keeping in touch with the consumer is vital, she said.

Growers shouldn't be afraid of looking around either. "You could ask yourself: What's the competition for snack tomatoes? Does your packaging correspond? What are the eating moments for snack tomatoes? Lifestyle and place of consumption are important aspects here."

Three layers
"A tomato is more than a tomato. Communication surrounding a product consists of three layers: social, emotional and functional. The frame/surroundings of your message determine how you observe the message." She highlighted bulk production: Bulk isn't sexy, but it can be interesting. Make bulk special, and last but not least, find new applications for your bulk product."

Renske concluded with the encouragement to look for inspiration beyond your own sector as well. "You'll be surprised when you do that, understand what's happening and put it into practice."

For more information:
Frank van Antwerpen
Jacob Obrechtlaan 3a, Postbus 512
4600 AM Bergen op Zoom
T: +31 164225500
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