Bayer watermelon and melon field day Griffith – Foto: Bayer AG
Producing melons a partnership for Bayer
New South Wales, Australia.With a philosophy of partnering with farmers, rather than simply supplying a service, it was an easy choice for Bayer to bring together the entire melon supply chain for a watermelon and melon field day in New South Wales recently.
In fact, Bayer’s vegetable seeds business works to a theme of Your Farm. Your Future. Your Partner., as Country Head and Country Sales Manager for Australia and New Zealand, Jamie Roylance explains.
“We’re passionate about innovation and taking agriculture into the future, so not only offering solutions in the varieties we breed, but also solutions such as brainware and software to meet challenges today and into the future.”
Part of the approach includes getting the supply chain talking to each other, which is exactly what happened in Griffith in March 2017.
Growers, retailers, agronomists and researchers were able to inspect the latest innovative Nunhems varieties, such as Golden melon, Crispy Pear melon and Premium mini-watermelon.
Mr Roylance says the evolution of these varieties is due to a combination of factors, from grower choice through to retailer and consumer preferences.
“We‘re mindful of the needs of the end consumer, as well as the retail, wholesale and processing sectors and growers, really the whole chain,” he explains. “When we’re breeding, that’s all being taken into account, then of course there’s a level of market research taken on a continuous basis to drive the direction of our breeding programs. “Overall, the general rule of thumb is that growers are looking for consistent quality and reliable varieties with a wide window of adaptation.”
Mr Roylance says Bayer strives to find a common ground, so the needs of all stakeholders in the supply chain are met.
The idea of consistency, however, is one which also strikes a chord with consumers according to Damien Odgers, Produce Chain Account Manager for Australia and New Zealand.
“One of the key things we’re looking for is consistency, which creates confidence for consumers when purchasing product,” he explains. “Other important aspects are shelf life and flavor profile, so taste, sugar content, and sweetness are all key things we’re looking for.”
Within that, Mr Odgers says the consumer palate continues to change, with customers continuing to indicate they want unique flavors.
“A good example is a canary yellow-skinned oriental style of melon with a really unique flavor called Crispy Pear we displayed at the Griffith field day,” he says. “Crispy Pear is what we nickname a candy melon, and it’s a good example of a niche product which is gaining a groundswell of interest from various sectors of the market because of its unique offering, flavor and taste. “I think it really symbolizes what consumers are looking for these days, there’s a growing need to differentiate and specialize, potentially, in more specialty items, such as Crispy Pear.”
While finding unique flavors is important, the overarching characteristic consumers want is reliability of quality, something the whole supply chain plays a role in. Jamie Roylance says that’s what made the Griffith field day such a success.
“We had all sorts of customers coming through, from vertically integrated businesses, retailers, growers from all over the country and other industry experts as well,” he explains. “The field day was unique from the point of view that it was instigated just by Bayer, one particular seed business investing in bringing all this expertise in to one place, on one particular day.”
Damien Odgers says the field day was an important opportunity to particularly engage with growers, who are key influencers in deciding which varieties are grown in paddocks around Australia.
“It was extremely valuable, growers have a major part to play in choosing their variety selections, so this type of day is really pivotal for us to showcase new material to the market,” he explains. “We are a market leader, but we need to continue to show them, and the rest of the supply chain, how we are improving our variety offering year on year.”
The question of what growers will be producing to satisfy consumers in five years’ time is perhaps one too difficult to answer, however Mr Odgers says there are some clear trends.
“I don’t think we’ll deviate too much from the mainstream categories we have on show now, being rockmelons and honeydews, however, I do feel unique specialty melons will gain more of a foothold in the retail shelf space,” he says. “What we are seeing globally however, and I think will happen in Australia, is that more and more consumers are looking for small serving sizes as they’re shopping more frequently. “We’ve got very good data to show that items like mini-watermelons will be popular, as will the idea of developing a whole fruit to take home, store easily and maintain freshness.”
Bayer: Science For A Better Life
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen. In fiscal 2016, the Group employed around 115,200 people and had sales of EUR 46.8 billion. Capital expenditures amounted to EUR 2.6 billion, R&D expenses to EUR 4.7 billion. These figures include those for the high-tech polymers business, which was floated on the stock market as an independent company named Covestro on October 6, 2015. For more information, go to www.bayer.com.
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