EU farmers alone produce around 17 million metric tons every year. COVID-19 has been an important driver of this thriving market: global retail sales of fresh tomatoes rose 17.6% in 2020 as people were forced to eat at home. In this article, Alejandro Szechtman, Portfolio Marketing Director Tomato at Hazera, sheds light on the challenges and opportunities facing the tomato sector today.
Changing consumer tastes
Key to the popularity of tomatoes is the range of options available. Right now, we see rising demand for convenient snack tomatoes. Smaller tomatoes require more harvesting labor, which can be a challenge given today's tough economic climate and tight labor market.
Meanwhile, consumers are increasingly 'buying local' to help the environment. But growing Mediterranean-quality fruits in northern Europe, for example, hasn't always been easy. Now, thanks to Hazera's experience and in-depth R&D, tastier tomatoes are available for more of the year. In parallel, the company is working with exporters to develop varieties with a longer transport life.
"As manual labor declines in the tomato sector, we're seeing farmers turn to automated, digitalized solutions to make production easier and faster. The resulting energy, cost, and resource efficiencies are extremely welcome in an industry where profits are often unpredictable. Automation is, therefore, an exciting area for investment, and we at Hazera are always working on R&D to make the dream solutions of the future a reality for the growers who need them," Alejandro explains.
Addressing the impact of climate change
A hotter climate will negatively affect plant growth and increase the risk of disease, making it harder to meet growing global demand.
"Hazera is working on solutions to help farmers prevent and overcome the effects of climate change. Not only are we breeding more adaptable varieties with higher drought and heat tolerance, but we're also collaborating with growers to design and implement technologies to save water during irrigation," Alejandro concludes.