Breeding to feed the world


Breeding to feed the world

85 years breeding to feed the world

The art of breeding

‘Breeders are allowed to be a bit stubborn. Stay off the beaten track, it's already so busy there. Innovation happens elsewhere.’

In the 80s, our creative, quirky breeders created the vine tomato Campari (Tasty Tom) as an experiment. It didn’t do much since it didn’t fit within a clear category. Then, in the early 90s, the Dutch tomato industry faced criticism for their tomatoes' lack of taste, with the German market calling them Wasserbomben – water bombs! Suddenly, our Campari took off, creating a completely new market segment and revolutionizing taste in the industry. It helped improve the image of Dutch tomatoes, and many more varieties followed. And Campari is still going strong after 25 years – which is truly an exception in the vegetable breeding business!


Little lettuce, big impact

In 1998, Enza Zaden introduced Xanadu, a mini-Romaine lettuce with an appealing taste and texture. It pioneered a whole new segment: Mini Cos. Xanadu offers growers, traders, and consumers numerous benefits, including easy cultivation, long shelf life, and a fresh, crunchy bite. The petite crop easily fits in the fridge – and its small size and long shelf life equals minimal waste! The development of this segment took years to reach full maturity, illustrating its enduring significance.

Thistle or lettuce?

Part of our success, you could say, lies in our genes. In our gene bank, established in 2002, we collect many kinds of ‘wild plants’ with natural resistance. It is an invaluable resource for identifying new resistance traits against pests and diseases. For example, we use a thistle variety with a certain natural trait from our gene bank to cross with one of our lettuce varieties to create a specific resistance. By preserving genetic diversity, we can develop crops that are more resilient to changing environmental conditions and more nutritious, which is essential for ensuring a stable food supply for future generations.

Deep red sweetness

In 2019, our seedless crimson watermelon variety, Cracker Jack, debuted in the US market. Its excellent performance is helping to put Enza Zaden on the map as a powerhouse in watermelon genetics. Cracker Jack is recognized by growers and brokers alike for its outstanding yields and uniform size. Its dark green rind and deep red inside have quickly made it America's favorite watermelon for both retailers and consumers. It’s the unmatched sweet taste that wins everybody over!