Hazera's new High-tech tomato greenhouse

Cultivating the future: Hazera’s new High-tech tomato greenhouse

Hazera has recently acquired a new high-tech greenhouse next to our headquarters in Made, the Netherlands. According to Yossi Shapiro, Head of R&D, this acquisition marks a significant step in Hazera’s journey to establish a strong position in the high-tech greenhouse tomato industry. He gives insight into the acquisition process, goals in research and development, and what Hazera can offer to the high-tech tomato market.

“Our goal to establish ourselves as one of the leaders in the high-tech tomato market with our mid- to long-term plan, as there is strong competition there”, Yossi says. “This goal was the primary motivation to invest in a state-of-the-art active tomato greenhouse, as you need the best facilities to compete with the best.” Hazera is empowering its tomato portfolio worldwide through the new high-tech tomato project with the strong support of Limagrain’s vegetable seed division. As the largest company in the vegetable seed industry, Limagrain Group has significantly invested in this project.

Hazera's new High-tech tomato greenhouseBackyard transformation
Yossi says multiple options were considered, such as renovating existing facilities or building a greenhouse from scratch. “But the answer was right in our own backyard: to buy an industry-grade, commercial greenhouse operation, that we can readily transform into a research facility with the help of our experts.” André van Zeijl, the previous owner of the greenhouse, has been an independent grower for over 25 years.
He has a lot of experience and will support the transition to a research facility.

With advanced technology and a focus on producing clean seeds through good seed and plant practices (GSPP), Hazera aims to elevate its research capabilities. Another important advantage of acquiring an existing facility, is sustainability. Re-purposing the greenhouse in Made, rather than building a new one, suits Hazera’s strategy of caring for the planet that helps us grow extraordinary seeds. We take our responsibility for the environment very seriously. Hazera has a lot of know-how and experience in breeding high-quality varieties that can be grown with reduced input. It’s great to see that a company like Hazera has such a strong focus on sustainability.

Experts in resistance, yield and taste
When talking about Hazera’s position in the high-tech tomato market, Yossi notes that “We also bring something very valuable to the table: our expertise in developing tomato varieties with strong resistance to diseases, particularly in response to ToBRFV, combined with excellent yield and taste. This can really equip growers to manage their biggest challenges. A great example of this is Pendragon, one of the ToBRFV-resistant varieties that we’ll be growing in the greenhouse. In addition, this greenhouse provides us with the opportunity to further improve yield, fruit quality, and commercial appeal of those varieties, and to implement the innovative techniques and technologies which will increase our efficiency, enhance the R&D outcomes, and accelerate time to market.”

“The Netherlands is the birthplace and center of the global high-tech tomato industry, so it is a natural location for us to launch this program”, Yossi continues. “But the goal of all our efforts is to develop hybrid high-tech tomato varieties to meet the evolving needs of our grower customers, wherever they may be, so they can serve the needs of their customers. When consumers are enjoying tasty and healthfully tomatoes grown from our seeds, we can say that we’ve been successful in our mission.”

A vision for tomorrow
“The heightened level of control and optimization in the high-tech greenhouse environment ensures that we can replicate production conditions under which we want to evaluate the varieties we are developing and advancing. That way, we aim to bring innovation and improvement to high-tech tomato markets around the world.”
“By combining our new active greenhouse research facility in Made, the expertise we have in developing leading tomato varieties, and our experience in customer engagement, we expect to play an important role in the high-tech tomato industry”, Yossi concludes. “There’s an exciting opportunity to grow this part of our business, and it starts with R&D.

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UPDATE: Hazera UK Partners Veg Power Schools Project!

UPDATE 07/12/23

Colleagues from Hazera UK joined the Veg Power Team on 8th June 2023 to help the children of Birchwood Junior School in Lincoln with the next exciting stage of their ‘GROWING TO LOVE’ tomato project.

It was time to re-pot the tomato seedlings that the children had raised and looked after so carefully since sowing them in April, and they were thrilled to show us what they had achieved, all perfectly captured by the Veg Power camera crew!

With much enjoyment and enthusiasm, involving compost, pots, labels and plenty of water, the children were justly proud and happy to have prepared their plants to take home for nurturing over the summer holidays. We are sure you will see their joy and delight in the attached photographs!

We hope to have the opportunity to re-visit the school in September to witness the final chapter –
The Tomato Harvest!

(Original article below)

Hazera UK are delighted to be full members of the UK Veg Power Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation encouraging children to eat more vegetables. It has been shown that 80% of UK children are not eating enough vegetables, with one third eating less than one portion a day. Veg Power has introduced several initiatives to inspire children, and their parents, to include more vegetables as a fundamental part of their everyday diet.

Providing educational packs

One of the Veg Power initiatives for 2023 is to provide educational packs to schools across the country to link with the ‘EAT THEM TO DEFEAT THEM’ TV advertising campaign. The packs will be sent to 15 schools in the area around the Hazera UK Head Office, supported by our membership of the Alliance. We believe providing the packs to local schools will not only encourage the health and nutrition of local children but also promote the Hazera brand more widely.

Growing to Love

Hazera UK will also support the participation of local schools in another Veg Power initiative, ‘GROWING TO LOVE’. Most children are enthused by planting a tiny seed, nurturing it, and watching it grow, indeed, research has shown children are more likely to try the food they have grown themselves. The ‘GROWING TO LOVE’ project involves children sowing and raising tomato plants during the summer, and then using the fruits in cooking sessions at the conclusion of the project. In partnership with Veg Power, Hazera UK has agreed to fund ten classes of thirty children in local schools, providing each child with a Hazera-branded tomato growing kit. We will have the opportunity to take part in the fun by joining the Veg Power Team on two fully managed school visits: one for planting and one for repotting.


Explaining the journey from ‘field to fork’

With many children, especially those living in more urban environments, being unaware of the origin of their foods, this campaign and these visits will enable Hazera UK to explain the journey from ‘field to fork’ of vegetable production. This has the potential to expand knowledge and understanding of horticulture in the environment, and to also impart an appreciation of outdoor activities to improve health and wellbeing.

CSR commitments

Hazera UK absolutely endorses the ambitions and goals of this exciting project and is keen to play an active role. We are proud to be associated with our local community, whilst contributing to our CSR commitments. We look forward to the various activities and will provide you with updates showing the progress of our involvement throughout the summer months.

Please visit this link for more information on ‘GROWING TO LOVE’ and other exciting campaigns run by the Veg Power Team.

How healthy food trends fuel culinary creativity

The drive for high-quality foods that contribute to a healthy lifestyle is stronger than ever. Vegetables are gaining a more prominent role in our diets. At the same time, events such as inflation, the energy and climate crisis and the pandemic have contributed to the strong urge to save money and energy. Even when preparing our meals. The result? Culinary creativity.

Preparing meals that are healthy for your lifestyle, the planet and your wallet: how do you do it? We take a look at the main trends.

#1 Vegetables in the lead role

Vegetables are increasingly becoming the main player in our meals. For some this means eating vegan or vegetarian, for others it means trying to cut back on their meat consumption. As a result, the demand for plant-based meals continues to grow.

Meals high in vegetables have a smaller carbon footprint and more nutrients, making them more cost-effective and sustainable. Moreover, this trend leads to culinary creativity: how do we create delicious meals around vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and cauliflower? Growers love to see their crops become the star of the show!

#2 Vegetables fulfill a high-protein diet

The increasingly conscious approach to our diet also affects what we consider to be “the best source for the protein” we need. Whether for environmental, animal or health reasons, the days when meat was seen as the main source of protein are over. Vegetables such as broccoli are seen as valuable alternatives.

#3 Waste is not on the menu

Perhaps the easiest way to reduce your food costs and footprint: use everything! Food waste is prominent on the agenda of consumers, as well as governments and NGOs. Did you know that according to the UN, about 30% of food produced for human consumption is wasted? This waste of food and money inspires chefs around the world to get creative in using every part of produce. From root to leaf. The more creative you get, the less will end up in the trash – and the more will be left in your wallet.

Contact us!

Clearly, in the quest for a more sustainable and healthier lifestyle, we need to get creative in the kitchen! At Hazera, we keep a close eye on developments in this field and provide our partners with the knowledge, advice and products needed to keep up. Wondering how we can support your business? Then contact us

Growing Together: an international event of collaboration and connection

The Growing Together international open days will take place in Israel on June 5-7. “It’s a unique opportunity to bring everybody together” says Veronica Derby, MarCom Manager at Hazera, and Haggai Breslauer, Sales Manager for Hazera Africa, who walk us through the event, sharing some exciting insights and highlights.

“It basically is the biggest event we held in recent years”, Veronica says about the Growing Together International open days. “It will bring over 85 customers, partners, and distributors of Hazera together, coming all the way to Israel from Africa, the Balkan region, the Americas, and the CIS-region. But there’s also a part for local Israeli growers”. According to Haggai, the goal is “to display our latest products, strengthen our bonds with clients and partners, and exchange knowledge and priorities between all parties involved. And of course: to have fun!”

What is the main purpose of the event?

Haggai emphasizes that, as the title ‘Growing Together’ suggests, the event will not be one-sided. “It is just as important for our clients to meet us, as it is for us to meet them. Our goal is to improve and grow together. This means not just explaining what we are doing, but also why and how.” To achieve this target, everybody must be looking in the same direction. Veronica: “By coming together we can connect, exchange knowledge about different products and markets, and align our priorities.”

Haggai says this transfer of knowledge is especially relevant for upcoming markets like Africa. “We see ourselves as having a responsibility in developing the agricultural market, not just to sell our products”. Another important goal to Haggai is for clients to meet the people behind the crops. “We want to bring our researchers forward. There’s two sides to that coin: On one side, our researchers can hear from clients first-hand what their needs are. And on the other side, we get to show our clients the hard work our teams deliver and what it takes to breed a good variety.”

What can visitors expect?

“We want our customers to get to know us, just as much as we want to get to know them, therefore we will start off with a few presentations on topics like our R&D and process innovations, ToBRFV-project, and production challenges. Then there’s the touristic part, in which we travel to Jerusalem and show everyone our beautiful country. “The third part is our field day, in which some groups visit a local nursery, a commercial union plot and our tomato greenhouse”, Haggai continues.

“And finally, on the last day of the event we will visit the main exhibition field where we display our products and come back to our Israeli HQ. This will include tours of our phytosanitary lab, our quality control germination and health labs,- as well as our in-house nursery”. For local growers, the Growing Together open days also form a great opportunity. Veronica: “For them, the event lasts 8 to 10 days, in which they can visit our development plot next to the exhibition where we present exciting new material that will soon be commercialized. However, from June 5-7 they have an extra nice opportunity, as they can be exposed to global activity.”

What excites you the most about the Open Days?

“To finally see all of our clients and partners face-to-face together again”, Haggai says. “It’s not often that we can get everybody from across the globe together for a professional event, for some clients it will even be the first time. So, this is a big deal for us. It gives us a chance to get everybody on the same page, strengthen relationships, share new products and developments, and learn from each other”. Haggai says he knows the visitors are very excited about the open days. “But believe me, so are we!”

Want to know more about our business?

Follow us on our social media channels to stay connected with our Hazera people! If you have any questions left, don’t hesitate to ask them via our contact page!


Hazera at AgroExpo 2023: “Growers know we have the solution to ToBRFV”

Hazera was present at the AgroExpo 2023 on Crete, Greece, from 26-28 May. Dimitris Karanikolos, Financial Administration Manager and Marcom Business Partner for the Greek subsidiary, explains the importance of this event. “Since last November, the Crete area has seen an increase in problems with the ToBRFV-virus. That’s why we had two main goals at the exhibition: to introduce and promote our ToBRFV-resistant varieties, and to spread information and increase awareness amongst local growers.”

“By now, around the 30% of the tomato cultivation in Greece has been affected by ToBRFV”, says Dimitris, further highlighting the vital importance of a strong and efficient policy against the virus. A policy that includes tomato varieties that are strong both in fruit quality and resistance. To get the main message on ToBRFV varieties across at the exhibition, Hazera created three main pillars: A fancy booth to spread awareness and display the products, meetings with small teams of agronomists to spread knowledge and a special demo field where growers could see the ToBRFV resistant varieties in the field.

Providing the right tools

“It is very important for us to build a stronger relationship with growers, but also with local agronomists, because they go into many different greenhouses and support the cultivation”, Dimitris says. “We noticed that the agronomists were very happy both with the complete knowledge we provided and the products that we offered. Our tomatoes are very tasteful and cover all the needs and standards of the Greek market, and besides that they also have ToBRFV IR resistance. This, combined with the information and awareness we spread, gives both growers and agronomists the tools they need to create healthy products of great quality.”

Knowledge is key.

When asked about his highlights of the AgroExpo, Dimitris answers that he noticed visitors came to the Hazera booth with knowledge and a clear purpose. “They knew we had a descent solution to the ToBRFV-virus, which means we successfully created awareness and knowledge about the variety with our campaigns. Another highlight was the feedback we got from growers that had already tested our varieties and told us that they are tasteful with very good shelf life”.

Dimitris is very happy to hear that growers are very satisfied with the sellable products they can now produce again, as he knows this hasn’t always been the case since the virus hit. “The last 3 years we have seen a dramatic increase of ToBRFV inflation in many areas. This led to the growers changing their habits: they either stopped growing tomatoes or growing smaller quantities to spread production, alternatively replaced them with other crops. This led to a decrease in tomato production, whilst the demand increased. Especially from May to October, when our population nearly doubles due to tourism.”

Product innovator to market leader

“So, the need for ToBRFV resistant varieties was urgent”, Dimitris continues. “We knew our varieties had good resistance, but we needed to ensure that our plants delivered both quality and quantity of fruits. After testing on a small scale, we moved to larger trials all over Greece last year. And with success, as growers can now produce high quality tomatoes again that are sellable in our market. Our competitors had good varieties as well, but they weren’t suitable for the Greek market. Thus, we have the advantage of being the first to have that optimal balance between production and protection”. Because of this, Dimitris is very optimistic about staying market leader for at least the next year or two. “And we expect to have the seeds and added value to cover all the needs of the market.”

Want to know more about our business?

Follow us on our social media channels to stay connected with our Hazera people! If you have any questions left, don’t hesitate to ask them via our contact page!

Meet the people behind the crops: Avi Gabai

In Hazera, we tend to put the spotlight on our successful products, yet their success starts with the People of Hazera: the truly committed and passionate experts who make it all happen on a daily basis. Meet Avi Gabai (65), our Production Research Manager from Herzliya, a city in central Israel. Avi spent more than three decades at Hazera in different roles, directly reflecting the progress and the growth Hazera has achieved during these years.

Avi has been with Hazera since 1990 in different roles in R&D and the Production departments, and from 2010 he has been managing the research in Production, improving the methods and tools of seed production, bringing innovation and solutions as continuous improvement processes. With his work, Avi helps the production teams improve their production performance for all of the Hazera crops.

“What is a common myth or preconception about your job or field of  expertise?”

“If you will ask the people of Hazera, they would say I’m only dealing with Onions” he says while grinning (which isn’t the case). “When I am talking with people outside Hazera, it always come to this one question: ‘What happened to the taste of tomatoes? Bring it back please’.” Apparently, it’s the most painful subject people relate to.

“In your opinion, what is the most important personality trait/strength someone would need to work in your industry/be successful in your job?”

“In my field at Hazera, I work in collaboration with different groups in production, and it became evident that the most important trait is the ability to ‘recruit’ people to join your cause, and together achieve the goal of improving the production process and consequently- the results. Getting them involved, making them feel this project is really theirs, and beyond. Continuous improvement is a team effort.”

“Tell us about a project you are really proud of and why”

“I am really proud of our joint activity in the start-up incubator with ‘South Up’. Together, we created an accelerator, enabling AG-Tech start-ups to receive help from us, in terms of mentoring, facilities and funds, and in return these start-ups are giving the benefit of new and innovative technologies we can embed into Hazera. Also, their culture of fast and agile work processes can contribute to our culture in Hazera. This is a win-win situation: Hazera can enforce its growth engines with the new technology and they can develop it into something that could be shared with the world and become commercial and profitable.”

“What book or movie you would recommend us and why?”

“Setting all politics aside, I want to recommend a book that I am reading now. It’s called “Who’s Michael?”,  written by Eliezer Shkedy, former chief commander of the Israeli Air Force, and former CEO of El Al. The book contains short stories from his past, showcasing his positive and humane approach to life. He tried to understand the other side above all, although he had some of the most demanding and stressing positions in the army- also true for him as a civilian. The way he followed and listened to his heart, thought about others and not just himself is really impressive and inspirational to me and I try to incorporate this attitude on a daily basis.”

Want to know more about our people?

Follow us on our social media channels to stay connected with our Hazera people! If you have any questions left, don’t hesitate to ask them via our contact page!

Continuous improvement keeps Hazera Seeds in the global top

Hazera is committed to developing high-quality seeds that allow communities to flourish. To do that, Hazera focuses on continually improving its operational excellence in research, production, processing and quality for both customers and employees. “We deliver the best to our customers, and we want to keep it that way”, says Tyrrel Chisenga, Seed technologist. “We put in a lot of effort, but there is always room for improvement.”

“We breed for new varieties, and multiply seeds for growers and farmers alike”, Tyrrel explains. “After production, we perform extensive quality control tests to confirm that our seeds meet the commercial quality standards. Based on the various tests that we execute, we initiate processing activities to ensure that we deliver quality. We also take care of physiological enhancement to ensure seedling vigour and establishment even under sub-optimal conditions. Our efforts are to make sure the seeds that our farmers sow and nurture into a crop, grow and eventually end up as delicious vegetables in supermarkets across the world.”

Quality control and Seed technology
Quality control and Seed technology are an indispensable component for Hazera when it comes to making sure we deliver the best quality. “Nature comes with its challenges and when we encounter challenges that may compromise the final product quality after production we initiate research into the causes and solutions”, says Tyrrel. “Such research may encompass  physiological, physical, health, genetic aspects of the seeds or efficiency of processes. Everything we do is to ensure optimum quality for our customers.”

On top of the game
Even though Hazera adheres to the commercial quality standards and guarantees quality, there is always room for improvement, Tyrrel finds. Hazera invests in continually improving seed quality. “These investments include machinery for seed enhancement, automation of processes and the use of imaging systems for better inline decision making. Additionally, there are improved protocols with reduced lead times. We introduced the Lean management system in our processing plants. We created a work environment that allows the smooth and fast flow of processes and at the same time reduces work load. This allows us to cater to the needs of our customers in a brief period.”

For Hazera, its employees are on the same pedestal as the customers. Tyrrel: “The most important thing for the welfare of our employees is to make sure that their work remains interesting and safe. That is why we made a new tomato pelleting formulation that is safer for our employees to apply. It also results in improved sowability and seedling performance.”

Want to know more?

Follow us on our social media channels to stay connected with Hazera and our continuous improvement! If you have any questions left, don’t hesitate to ask them via our contact page!