Vegetables by Bayer presents Signor Datterino at Cibus

"Our objective was to supply consumers with high-quality plum tomatoes. The project started two years ago, in the midst of the pandemic, thanks to the passion and professionalism of a restricted number of people who believed in it. It started with a market investigation to understand the preferences of consumers and their habits, and it was supported by producers and the retail sector," reports Monica Merusi, marketing lead, vegetables, at Bayer Crop Science, when talking about consumer brand "Signor Datterino."

Monica Merusi and Mauro Ferrari, respectively, marketing lead vegetables and country commercial lead vegetables at Bayer Crop Science.

Italy is one of the leading global tomato producers, with its around 25,000 hectares and 950 thousand tons produced (source FAOSTAT, 2018). Many types are grown. Tomatoes are the king of Italian tables, with a penetration index of 96% and a considerable per capita consumption.

Why plum tomatoes?
Due to their versatility and the fact that they can be eaten in various seasons: they are a mini-fruit with a particular shape, a bright red color, and a unique flavor that conveys to consumers the high quality and transparency of the Italian production chain. The web survey conducted by research company TOTENEXT on a sample of 1,235 people revealed that over half of interviewees declared consuming date tomatoes all year round, not just in summer. They are considered "smart" tomatoes enjoyed both in salads and as a snack/aperitif. 

"At the moment, four plum tomato varieties are part of the project, one of which is destined to heated greenhouses, so we can have various production cycles with yields all year round in different areas in Italy, especially Sicily." 

"The project aims at promoting Italian productions and the professionalism, passion, and hard work of Italian growers. At the same time, it meets the needs of consumers to identify the products. The plum tomatoes placed in 300 g cardboard trays and commercialized under the Signor Datterino brand must meet high-quality requirements and sustainable and certified production processes. We, therefore, work with a certification body that certifies both the organoleptic qualities of the tomatoes and the production processes of single growers," adds Mauro Ferrari, country commercial lead vegetables at Bayer Crop Science.

Precisely because it is not linked to a specific cultivar but rather to a category, the project is open to other varieties and growers. "We started from consumers, but the whole chain has been involved. So far, big retail chains have shown their interest in our initiative. The project was developed so that everyone could benefit from it. Without the partnership of producers and distributors, Signor Datterino would not even have been born: it is therefore essential for the other actors of the chain to perceive an added value."

Guaranteed quality and distinctiveness
Signor Datterino will be present on the shelves of some big retail chains. "A first test carried out with a leading national chain showed an increase in the purchase of the products, precisely because they were recognizable on the shelves."

"As no specific variety was identified, but rather a segment, consumers have the opportunity to purchase not a simple plum tomato, but a Signor Datterino."

A two-way dialogue with consumers will be envisaged: not just product traceability via Qcode but also a request for feedback. "This will enable us to assess the effectiveness of the initiative and the appreciation of consumers. In addition, consumers themselves will influence future developments and improvements with their feedback."

Official launch at Cibus Connecting Italy 2023
"Cibus is an important fair for the entire food segment. We thought it would be right to present the project here for the first time, as it is an event that involves not just sector operators but consumers too." 

As for short-term expectations, Merusi and Ferrari admit that "results have already exceeded expectations. As coordinators of the initiative, we are receiving requests from both big retail chains and new growers. We are trying to manage everything respecting the objective of maintaining quality high."

With Signor Datterino, Bayer intends to strengthen its commitment to promoting healthy and tasty nutrition based on balanced consumption of fruit and vegetables. 

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