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Czech Republic: Tomato producers set up their own sales organization

Tomato producers in the Czech Republic are setting up their own sales organization, called Čerstvě utrženo. The goal of the cooperative is to achieve optimal business conditions for growing fruit and vegetables and consolidating their market position. "The main motivation for the creation of a community of independent growers was the desire to bring Czech fruit and vegetables with a real taste and freshness back to store shelves," said Monika Zábojníková, who has a marketing and communication role in the project.

The newly established team currently has four members, with farms in Velké Němčice, Smržice, Mutěnice and Velké Bílovice. They are now focusing on the greenhouse production of cherry tomatoes, but also of other vegetables. The first production under the Čerstvě utrženo brand will hit the shelves of Czech retail chains at the turn of 2017 and 2018. Supplies are to be year round.

"Coming to the market under a common brand brings a lot of benefits. In addition to working with our customers and be able to plan what we grow, together we will be stronger in negotiating the conditions with big chains. We will do the marketing together and share our experiences in growing," stated Jiří Stodůlka, a manager of the sales organization.

An example of good practices for Czech producers is a current association of tomato growers in Slovakia. Within the OVOZELA sales organization, they cover almost half of the total Slovak tomato production. The Čerstvě utrženo Sales Organization plans to increase the production of vegetables and fruit in the long run. "Although the Czech Republic has excellent climatic conditions for growing fruit and vegetables, we are the last one in the production of fruit and vegetables per capita from all EU countries," added Stodulka.

According to Zábojníkové, "today's customers in the Czech Republic are more knowledgeable and demanding, and more and more people will prefer food that is fresh, tasty, and produced near their home, but some chains refuse to reveal the identity of the producers and force the grower to deliver tomatoes in packages under their private labels."

She added that customers will be more inclined to buy products labelled as domestic and with information on where the tomatoes were grown and by whom. "We believe that revealing the identity of individual producers is a very important aspect of communication in order to build a common brand. Our growers are not afraid to go on the market and guarantee the quality of their products on the packaging with their own words and photographs," concluded Zábojníková.

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