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Sakata Seeds expands portfolio:

"After substantial investments in tomatoes and peppers, we've now gained a foothold in cucumbers"

With the acquisition of the cucumber breeding company, Sana Seeds, Sakata is expanding its presence in the cucumber market. "We're broadening our portfolio. After substantial investments in recent years in tomatoes and peppers, we've now gained a foothold in cucumbers," said Matthieu Maxant, EMEA Chief Operating Officer of Sakata. He explained that this acquisition is not only about the present but also a commitment to the future, which includes cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and more.

Cucumber acquisition
According to Matthieu, the Sana Seeds acquisition, officially completed in late September, is the result of a close collaboration between the two companies that began several years ago. "The way the company was managed and how Sakata wanted to enter this market created a great opportunity to join forces," he explained. "Sana Seeds can scale up their activities and leverage the broad Sakata network. As Sakata planned to expand its cucumber portfolio, this collaboration made perfect sense."

In recent years, Sakata has already made significant investments in its tomato and pepper programs. "But we were missing a presence in the cucumber market, particularly in Europe. In 2017, we acquired a Jordan Beit Alpha cucumber program, primarily dedicated to the Middle East. With the Sana Seeds acquisition, we have extended our offerings to Southern European markets, with varieties that have also shown good results in countries like Mexico due to similar production and organizational structures. By combining germplasms, we can continue to offer a more comprehensive portfolio to our customers, both now and in the future."

With two team members from Sana Seeds joining Sakata, more developments are expected in the future. "This is not merely a symbolic acquisition; the breeders from Sana Seeds have joined Sakata because they believe in the way our cucumber portfolio will be built and developed."

This includes investments in climate-controlled high-revenue markets. "I would be lying if I said this is not an interesting market for us," Matthieu confirms, revealing that their first variety is currently in the pre-commercial stage. "In addition to tests in Almeria, this variety will be tested in Northern European conditions as well. We are actively investing in this market and anticipate more varieties to emerge in the future."

Pepper Breeding
Peppers are another area of investment for Sakata. The company has a targeted breeding program in Almeria, which is at the heart of European blocky pepper production. "In our headquarters in France, we have a second breeding program dedicated to diversification, including snack peppers, suitable for various climates. All of these components help us build a diverse portfolio for the Northern European market as well."

In the field of tomatoes, Sakata has a reputation as a specialist in specialties, with a broad offering of unique varieties known for their excellent flavor. "We continue to focus less on larger varieties due to the high level of competition and aim to maintain our dedication to taste, making our varieties renowned in this niche market," he summarized.

This niche market has faced challenges from global developments, such as inflation, high gas prices, and labor costs. "These days, we are less present in the highly specialized markets in Northern Europe and are focusing more on the South, including Morocco, where inflation is lower than in the Netherlands or the UK, and energy prices and labor costs are less burdensome."

However, the rugose virus has brought significant changes to the industry. "The virus is currently the main challenge and remains a top priority for us," Matthieu confirmed. Despite the market being flooded with varieties that prioritize resistance, Sakata continues to prioritize taste. "Balancing resistance and taste is a challenge in the industry. We have observed that several of our varieties demonstrate good resistance to rugose. The fact that these are not new varieties instils confidence in growers and retailers. These products have already been selected and recognized for their exquisite taste and offer much-needed resistance as well."

For more information:
Andrée Avogadri
Sakata Seed Corporation.
Tel.: +33 7 88 86 93 24
[email protected]