The rising global demand for fresh fruit and vegetables by both consumers and processed food industries has sparked the interest of not only independent farmers and seed companies but also major agri-science giants like Bayer CropScience, Syngenta, Monsanto, and Groupe Limagrain, to name a few, each of which are planning fruit and vegetable seed research, development and production over the next five years to meet growing global demand for new seed varieties.
According to Market Research Future (MRFR), an India-based global market and industry research company, the high nutritional value of fruits and vegetables is increasing the demand for new variety seeds worldwide. The food processing industry represents the greatest growth on demand, but not far behind is consumer demand for fresh fruits and vegetables, especially organic varieties.
In a recently published market report, MRFR projected the global fruit and vegetable seed market is estimated to grow more than 7.5 percent over the next 5 years (2017-2023).
According to the report, advancement in technology and high focus on research and development has increased production of premium quality and disease resistant seed varieties, one of the major drivers for the fruit and vegetable seed market. The demand is growing rapidly in Europe, which is aiding positive growth in various countries in the Americas and the Asia-Pacific region.
DEMAND DRIVING MARKET
Analysts believe the need for high-nutrition fruits and vegetables in the near future will drive the global food market. They believe high demand is backed up by the rising population, globalization of food production, and consumer preference for high quality foods. The rising demand for organic fruits and vegetable seed is also projected to escalate globally over the same period, and for the same reasons.
In Texas, perhaps more than anywhere else across the Southwest, fruit and vegetable farming is well established. While overall fruit and vegetable production has declined in Texas over the last 50 years, the state still produces a great deal of fruit, nut, and vegetables crops. The USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) ranked Texas No. 8 out of 50 states in production value of vegetables, melons, potatoes, fruit, tree nuts and berries in 2016.
But the agricultural development in northern Mexico over the last several decades has resulted in a supply of Mexican produce at prices lower than what it would cost to grow the crop in Texas. The end result has been an overall decline in vegetable production in Texas, a trend that may not only be slowing, but has the potential of reversing.
TEXAS GROWTH POTENTIAL
Texas AgriLife Extension specialists have been working hard to develop new varieties of vegetables once grown competitively in Texas. The idea is to bring back a share of food production to Texas lost to Mexico over the last 40 years, but in a way that not only improves our food choices, but also makes farming vegetables more profitable. New varieties can offer lower input costs and higher yields for Texas growers, a goal many believe to be necessary to revitalize vegetable farming in the state.
Officials at the Texas A&M Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center say they are dedicated to delivering more nutritious foods to the public and increasing consumer intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. Crop productivity remains a component of the work at the center, but the focus is on improving fruits and vegetables to deliver health promoting natural compounds that can boost human health and aid in preventing disease—in other words, a healthy food product for consumption.
With the emphasis on healthier foods, Extension officials at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center at Weslaco are working with new technologies in molecular biology and plant sciences to develop “next generation” crops to protect the environmental and natural resources of Texas while improving the health of consumers. They say another goal is to help Texas farmers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, once the center point for vegetable production in Texas, find efficient, high yielding fruit and vegetable crops that could help the region return to the glory of vegetable-days-gone-of-old.
It shouldn't be surprising that Extension research focuses on many of the same nightshade vegetable crops cited in the MRFR seed study noted above. Analysts believe these types of vegetables are expected to be in high demand in the years to come and represent crops suited to the Texas environment and conditions.
Nightshade vegetables are part of the Solanaceae plant family, which contains well over 2,000 different species. The variety extends well beyond vegetables to include innocuous flowers such as morning glories, and even toxic herbs, such as belladonna; nightshade trees also exist. Still, vegetables are a prominent part of the family, so much so, that Solanaceae is sometimes called the “potato family” or "tomato family."
Specifically, nightshades adaptable to Texas farms and environment include potatoes, chile peppers, bell and sweet peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and tomatillos.
In addition to the development of better seeds for nightshade vegetables, Texas crop officials expect a growing need for better fruit and nut varieties and more organic and heritage seed varieties to meet the growing demand for healthier food products.
SEED DEVELOPMENT MARKET ANALYSIS
The major key players in the fruit and vegetable seed market today include:
Bayer CropScience AG (Germany)
Syngenta AG (Switzerland)
Monsanto Company (U.S.)
Groupe Limagrain (France)
Takii & Co., Ltd. (Japan)
Advanta Limited (India)
Sakata Seed Corporation (Japan)
Western Bio Vegetable Seeds Ltd. (India)
Mahindra Agri (Samriddhi) (India)
Fruit and vegetable seed manufacturers across various regions follow the strategy of improving existing products as well as increasing the manufacture of disease resistant varieties of fruit and vegetable seed to meet consumer demand.
MRFR officials say this is one of the major factors for the surge in demand for fruit and vegetable seed. Netherlands is among the dominating countries holding a major share in fruit and vegetable seed market and exports the product in various other countries including Spain, Germany, U.S., France, Turkey and others.
The global fruit and vegetable seed market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and rest of the world (ROW). Europe holds a major market share followed by North America. The high demands for fruit and vegetables from the developed countries of these regions are contributing to the positive growth of the fruit and vegetable seed market. The Netherlands, U.S., Mexico, Germany and Spain are the major importers of fruit and vegetable seed. Europe is found to be the major exporter of fruit & vegetable seed and exports mostly to countries of the Asia-Pacific region.