Syngenta's Sweetelle snack tomato variety can be found in many greenhouses. Arthur van Marrewijk, technical product development specialist at the breeding company, looks back on the past Sweetelle season full of, among others, virus and energy challenges and has news: a modified Sweetelle will be launched on the market in 2022. The variety will be available for trials and if all goes well, all productions can be moved over in 2023.
Syngenta has been able to maintain its market share with Sweetelle in very turbulent times, Arthur says. "The variety is an important one in the Benelux in terms of acreage. In recent years, Sweetelle has consistently proven to be a very reliable variety, even in the ToBRFV context. Meanwhile, North Africa's growing production is becoming a serious competitor, especially in the winter months."
On the market, Syngenta hears that Sweetelle's plants suffer from Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV), but that the fruits remain virtually unaffected. "This allows the crop to be finished without major production damage, ultimately resulting in a very reliable product for the supermarket."
The demand for Sweetelle from the sales market is also high. The reliability of the variety is recognized and appreciated, much to Arthur's satisfaction: "Sweetelle is very crunchy and tasty. It is the perfect healthy snack that has become a standard for many consumers. Supermarkets love Sweetelle for its incredibly long shelf life."
Nevertheless, the end is in sight for Sweetelle, and this is entirely due to ToBRFV. Arthur points out: "What is very positive and crucial to know for growers, traders, and supermarkets: in 2022, there will be a modified Sweetelle variety with ToBRFV resistance. Thanks to the technology used, we expect this variety to be just as reliable and to have the same strong characteristics as Sweetelle. The variety will be available for trials and if all goes well, all productions can be moved over in 2023. The variety will continue under a new name for registration reasons."
More varieties with resistance
From 2022 onwards, Syngenta will introduce more resistant varieties in all segments. The aim is to have the entire range converted to ToBRFV-resistant varieties in a few years' time. The company is using conversions in current and upcoming varieties, among others, to come up with solutions for growers and the industry as quickly as possible. "By stepping up the process, we will ensure that new life is breathed into already proven varieties, but this time with the resistance that everyone is waiting for!"
Arthur: "The ToBRFV crisis threatens to cause huge changes in the market. For us, it causes enormous shifts in budget and capacity. ToBRFV has priority and everything is being done to stabilize resistance in every variety. This could mean that even problems in other crops have to be tackled differently or have to wait."
Of course, Syngenta also continues to look beyond. "We must not lose sight of future developments. New flavors, shapes, more uniformity, more resilient plants, and so on. We will keep working on the future!"
More news on ToBRFV developments from Syngenta will follow in the coming months.