Checkbiotech: Syngenta targets the world market with the launch of its chocolate-coloured tomato
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The world leader in agrichemicals is all-set for external growth in the seed
sector, the new strategic focus of the heavyweights in this industry. The
target market ? the United States and the six West European countries in a
first phase ? is estimated to be worth six billion dollars, May 2005 by
It is brown and fleshy, always ?tasty? and ?juicy?. Its ancestors, some
wild, others cultivated, came from various regions: this is the latest idea
from Syngenta which is launching a resolute attack on the world tomato
market with a top-of-the-range non GM product called Kumota, for which the
group has developed the seeds under the S&G brand.
Selling at 1.5 to 2 times the price of standard tomatoes it will be grown in
Spain from November to May when sunshine is guaranteed and in Belgium and
Brittany for the rest of the year. The originality of this approach resides
in a partnership between Syngenta, the producers and the distributors.
Convinced that the quality of the final product is heavily dependent on the
seed used at the outset, the Swiss group is offering its technical
assistance to farmers and distributors in exchange for which it will recover
a share (it is not prepare to disclose how much) of the margin achieved on
the final product.
Syngenta?s target market ? initially the United States and the six West
European countries ? is estimated to be worth 6 billion dollars by André
Goig, Director of the vegetables department of the Swiss giant. But the
prospects for this fruit eaten as a vegetable all over the world and
produced on a scale of 71 million tons a year are enormous. Confronted, like
its agrichemical competitors, with the flat market for pesticides and the
hostility of the Europeans to GMOs, Syngenta regards seeds as a ?long term
growth reservoir? and an ?essential strategic axis?.
The markets can look forward to strong development of crops for biofuels,
biopharmacy and enzymes already utilised by Syngenta to modify the
metabolism of pigs and reduce their excreta which are regarded as highly
polluting. China, India, South East Asia and Latin America are markets which
the seed producers have not yet exploited.
Pressure of competition
Seeds already account for between 15 and 20% of the world giant?s sales and
these are growing at an impressive rate, unlike pesticides for which few
growth prospects now remain outside the developing countries. Syngenta
reported 6% growth of seeds sales in 2004 followed by a 70% leap in the
first three months of this year. The acquisition of the American Golden
Harvest company and the US business of Garst (Advanta Seeds) in 2004 has
obviously made a major contribution to this result. But, even disregarding
the change of consolidation scope, the increase in first quarter sales still
stood at 15%.
Syngenta has announced that other acquisitions will follow, especially as
competition is growing. Monsanto, which has invested vast sums in the
development of GMOs, has decided to reap the benefits of its research by
also developing its seeds business in which it became the world leader in
January when it bought up Seminis, a specialist in fruit and vegetable
seeds, at a price of 1.4 billion dollars.
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