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Japanese ag-tech giant in the making

Japan: Mitsui invests in Dutch breeding company Totam

Mitsui & Co., Ltd. has reached an agreement to take a 75% stake in Totam Seeds B.V. and signed a share purchase agreement on November 25, 2020. Totam originates from Prominent, the largest tomato growers' association in the Netherlands and is an innovative seed company based in the Netherlands, active in research, breeding, and the sales & marketing of hybrid tomato seeds for the fast-growing active greenhouse segment. 

Mitsui will partner with Prominent U.A.. This partnership will enable Totam to leverage Prominent's vast experience in the production of tomatoes under active greenhouse conditions and its insight into the latest consumer trends, as well as the strong research and development capabilities of Mitsui's seed ecosystem, such as Top Seeds International Limited, to develop new and innovative varieties.

Active greenhouses with climate control enables year-round production and stable supply against the backdrop of the changing climate while minimizing labor which is an issue for the global agriculture industry.

Knowledge and seeds
Mitsui plans to supply active greenhouse farmers around the world with tomato seeds developed by Totam, alongside comprehensive solutions based on Prominent's know-how (e.g. irrigation, systems, sensors, etc.).

"We're placing a focus on responding to increased demand for food due to the growth of the world's population, as well as ensuring a stable supply of food in response to climate change, and addressing increasing demand for vegetables to improve people's health and living standards," they explain. "The vegetable seed business, which is a potential solution to these challenges, has been positioned as a key strategic area, and through this investment, we will contribute to the improvement of peoples diets around the globe."

Conducting trials together
“We are thrilled to partner with Prominent. Prominent has extensive knowledge and experience in state-of-the-art tomato production and we look forward to also contributing our global business expertise and perspectives to together look at new ways to fuel innovation,” said Hitoshi Kudo, General Manager AgriScience Division of Mitsui & Co.” Mitsui, Prominent, and Totam initiated their relationship in April 2019 and have since been engaged in conducting trials using seed varieties developed by each other.

“We believe that by combining each other’s resources, expertise, and research platform, we would be able to jointly grow and maximize the business potential of Totam," said Fulvio Berton, Board Advisor of JVS (a joint venture between Mitsui and Japanese seed companies; Nippon Norin Seed Co., Kurume Vegetable Breeding Co., Nanto Seeds Co., and Matsui Seeds Co.), and newly appointed CEO of Totam. “I am very excited and looking forward to being actively involved in this project. This combined effort will provide tremendous value to the tomato producers throughout the world.”

Mitsui & Co: new giant in horticultural industry
Mitsui acquired a distribution company in the Netherlands in 1992. Since then Mitsui has expanded the agrochemicals business in Europe through a subsidiary, Certis Europe B.V. in which MASI has jointly invested with Nippon Soda Co., Ltd. and Kumiai Chemical Industry Co., Ltd. 

In the United States, Mitsui has been developing business through Certis USA L.L.C., which manufactures and distributes biological pesticides. Mitsui has also started to build a significant presence in the Brazilian market through the investment in the agrochemical company Ouro Fino Química Ltda (Head Office: Brazil) in February 2019.

Mitsui has identified "Nutrition and Agriculture" as one of its key growth areas in its Medium-term Management Plan and over the last couple of years they expanded rapidly in this industry.

Back in 2017, breeding company Top Seeds 2010 was acquired by Mitsui & Co., Ltd. In 2019 they acquired a majority of the shares of Belchim Crop Protection. Earlier this year, Mitsui & Co acquire an equity stake in Hunan Xiangyan Seed Industry. This is the founding body of China's largest seed company Longping High-Tech and a core subsidiary of its vegetable seed business. 

For more information:
Totam Seeds
Nieuwlandsedijk 33
2691 KV 's-Gravenzande

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