Seed firm aims to be in global top five
East-West Seed focused on Asian market and Asean integration
Netherlands-based East-West Seed Company aims to become one of the global top five seed producers by focusing on the Asian market with its booming economy and move towards integration.
"The company sees Asia and Asean as the core market area to maintain growth. The firm will concentrate on innovating and developing quality seeds with no GMOs to serve rising demand for vegetables," Simon Jan De Hoop, vice president of research and development, said last week.
The company is already among the world's 10 largest seed producers and the leader in tropical vegetable seeds in Asia.
Asia is being considered as the centre of a new era in business growth as well as research and innovation.
As more people in Asia enjoy better incomes following strong economic growth, they tend to eat more vegetables to improve or maintain their health.
Vegetable consumption in Asia is only 50 kilograms per year versus 200 kilos per year in Western countries. The figure in Asia could rise substantially.
The firm has allocated more than 15 per cent of its sales to research. It has focused on developing quality tropical vegetable seeds mainly for Asia.
The company develops and produces vegetable seeds with higher yields, better tolerance to disease and pests, longer shelf life, extended growing seasons and better eating quality.
In the Thai market, the company is the leading seed producer with a 30-40-per-cent share of the Bt2-billion market, which is expanding more than 10 per cent a year.
Prasert Kongkiatngam, general manager to the research operations manager, said the firm sees the advent of the Asean Economic Community by 2015 as a bigger opportunity for seed firms.
The Asean seamless market could allow the free flow not only of vegetable seeds but also of researchers and workers to ameliorate the shortage of researchers and plant developers.
The firm now enjoys a 70-80-per-cent share in Indonesia and the Philippines.
To promote plant innovation in Asia, East-West Seed last week hosted the "International Tomato Breeders Roundtable" in Chiang Mai, focusing on the development of improved tomato varieties to serve demand in different markets.
It was the first time in 55 years that the forum was held outside North America. Thailand was
chosen since operators and academics believe that the country and Asia are great areas that can supply developed tomato breeds to serve rising demand in the world market.
Jay Scott, professor of horticulture at Florida University, said there is a big opportunity to increase tomato consumption and expand the industry in Asia. People tend to buy more quality tomatoes. The future of tomatoes could become brighter, as people appreciate high nutrition with the good taste of tomatoes.
The roundtable shared knowledge and innovations for breed development.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, 4.7 million hectares of land globally are producing about 160 million tonnes of fresh tomatoes.
Asia is the biggest producer of tomatoes in the world, with more than half of global production based here.
In Thailand, the land area devoted to commercial production of tomatoes has grown sharply. In 2010, almost 13,000 hectares were devoted to tomatoes. The country produced 175,737 tonnes of tomatoes. There are an estimated 13,000-26,000 Thai farmers planting tomatoes.
Aside from fresh tomatoes, the production of tomato seeds is even more significant for Thailand. The Thailand Seed Trade Association has reported that Thailand exported 53 tonnes of tomato seeds valued at Bt561.6 million in 2011.