United Genetics: New Ideas for Better Seeds?
The United Genetics Seeds Co. was established in 1990 by Remo and Norma Ludergnani, specializing in processing tomato genetics. Remo’s vast experience in the seed industry combined with his drive to develop the best product for customers has transformed the company into a multi-million dollar international enterprise. “New Ideas for Better Seeds” is the company’s motto.
In 2013, Kagome Co. Ltd., one of the most respected food and beverage companies in Japan, invested in United Genetics. Founded in 1899, Kagome takes pride in its origins in tomato farming. For 110 years, Kagome has always believed in the power of tomatoes and vegetables, and has continued to introduce innovative approaches throughout the production chain, from farm to table. By combining Kagome’s expertise and business foundation in tomatoes and vegetables with UG’s passion and knowledge for improving and producing better seeds, UG is well positioned for continued growth and global expansion.
Research and product development
UG breeds and markets hybrid and proprietary open-pollinated varieties of eleven major classes of vegetable crops including tomato, squash, hot pepper, sweet pepper, cucumber, eggplant, onion, artichoke, okra, cantaloupe melon and watermelon. Tomatoes represent about 40% of UG total global sales and are a clear emphasis of the company’s breeding programs. UG employs twelve plant breeding scientists, seven of which are dedicated to tomatoes and cover all key segments in major markets.
United Genetics Seeds Co. global sales and research leadership team, September 2017
UG research has been the basis for the company’s strong growth around the world. Kagome and UG have formed a solid technical alliance to produce consistent high-quality varieties to supply the needs of the industry. UG varieties are developed with traditional and advanced (non-GMO) breeding techniques in order to accelerate continuous introduction of improved traits. “What would need 500 years to occur naturally, we can do in 5 years” is the best way to describe the philosophy of seed development at UG. The hybrids are developed in response to current market demand and according to the foresight of UG breeders.
UG currently serves customers in 85 countries, with sister companies in Italy, India, Chile, Turkey, Philippines, Spain and Mexico. In 1995, United Genetics was set up in Italy, with headquarters in Parma, responsible for the distribution of UG products throughout Italy, Greece, many East-European countries and the Mediterranean basin. In 2005, United Genetics India Pvt. Ltd. started operations as an independent company licensed to handle all its interests in India and neighboring countries. In 2013, United Genetics Asia was formed to strengthen UG presence in South East Asian countries. In 2014, United Genetics Turkey was created with the acquisition of the famous TAT Thoumculuk Company. The Turkish operation is based in Istanbul. In 2016, Akira Seeds was acquired in Spain to better serve the high value crops produced and marketed in Spain. Also in 2016, United Genetics Mexico was founded to promote and directly market solanaceae and cucurbit crops in Mexico.
Over the past 5 years, UG has been able to enjoy strong double digit growth, with significant sales increase coming from overseas expansion. Company leaders intend to continue this expansion with both geographical coverage and higher value product development. The mid-term goal is to reach USD 48 million in sales. Always keen to serve the processing tomato industry worldwide, UG truly understands the particular needs of this industry and works intensively to create the best tomato hybrids for the different climate conditions in various regions and for different product types. United Genetics breeding efforts are strategically located in California, Italy, Turkey, Spain and India, to target the global markets.
In terms of processing tomatoes, particular attention is paid to the needs of growers:
•High yield potential
•Varieties with maturity differences (early, mid and full-season)
•Field storage capability (Extended field holding – EFH)
•Highest processing qualities for hot-break and cold-break processing (high viscosity, high brix, low pH, multi-use, high color, high lycopene, balanced acidity, suitability for peeling or dicing, etc.)
•Disease resistances (3 races of Fusarium, 2 races of Verticillium, nematodes, Pseudomonas, Xanthomonas, 3 races of TYLCV, TSW, PMR, TMV, etc.)
In order to obtain results for each agronomical region, the company stays in close contact with processors and growers from around the world. Hundreds of field trials are conducted annually across the globe with the goal of selecting and evaluating breeding lines and early hybrids.
The company now employs seven tomato breeders covering all tomato types and markets, and also shares a common breeding platform and resources with its parent company, Kagome Inc. The recent addition as Research Director of Dr. Robert de la Pena, a seasoned breeder with a proven leadership record in both multinational seed companies and public research institutions, has added a significant boost to the integration and optimization of breeding programs. The company is proud to offer a range of tried and tested hybrids that are currently in use in the various tomato processing regions around the world. United Genetics is constantly evaluating new products and will continue to improve its varieties to better serve growers and the global processing tomato industry, as it has done for the past 28 years.
United Genetics: New Ideas for Better Seeds? The United Genetics Seeds Co. was established in 1990 by Remo and Norma Ludergnani, specializing in processing tomato genetics. Remo’s vast experience