On September 21, Bayer announced the expansion of its leading fruit and vegetable business to strawberries. With the acquisition of the strawberry plants of the British company NIAB, Bayer will expand its focus on professional growers of protected plants in order to meet the growing demand from consumers and retailers for high-quality strawberries all year round and also to have varieties available for outdoor conditions.
This agreement allows the company’s Crop Science division to offer a wider range of solutions to growers in the growing protected strawberry market. Strawberry varieties are supplemented with biological and chemical plant protection products from Bayer.
Strawberries are the fastest growing fruit, and year-round demand exceeds supply. In fact, strawberries are category leaders in the vegetable sector and account for more than 23 percent of fresh fruit sales, said Inci Dannenberg, head of Bayer’s vegetable business. With Bayer’s entry into the strawberry market, we will offer breeders premium genetics in combination with innovative crop protection products and digital solutions. The inclusion of strawberries in the Bayer portfolio is a natural development that many of our customers are also making.
The NIAB strawberry breeding program has been in existence for over 40 years, since its roots in the East Malling Research Station in the county of Kent, UK, and has long been associated with excellence in breeding and innovation in horticulture.
NIAB in East Malling has built a strong foundation for strawberries based on more than a century of world-class horticultural research at our Kent plant, and we are proud to continue this with Bayer, said Mario Caccamo, CEO of NIAB. . In addition to accelerating innovation for British growers, Bayer will also make these delicious strawberries available to more growers and consumers around the world.
By switching to protected cultivation, strawberry producers have more control over the environment, crop management, pests and diseases, and in turn see clear advantages in terms of fruit quality, crop safety and consistency. In addition, plants grown under shelter consume less water than outdoor crops and have the potential to last longer in retail because they can be grown closer to the consumer.
With its advanced breeding technologies, Bayer will continue to achieve the breakthroughs that consumers, retailers and producers need. We have built up a solid foundation in precision breeding and hope to be able to apply these approaches to strawberries as well, said JD Rossouw, head of vegetable research and development at Bayer’s Crop Science division. With these techniques, we can continue to build on the foundations laid by NIAB and deliver strawberries of the highest quality to our growers and the value chain.
With more than 20 different crops and thousands of vegetable seed assortments, Bayer’s vegetable seed business supports a wide variety of growers with seed varieties tailored to the tastes and preferences of consumers around the world. The main crops are tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, lettuce, melon, onions, peppers, spinach, sweet corn and watermelon. Sales of the business unit reached 717 million euros in 2022.
The acquisition is expected to be completed on January 1, 2024.