On-Demand Breeding Leads to Better Produce 10x Faster than Traditional Breeding
EMERYVILLE, CA (March 14, 2023) — Today, Sound Agriculture announced the launch of the Summer Swell tomato, a new slicing tomato variety with superior taste and extended peak flavor. This is the first food to be grown using On-Demand Breeding, a non-GMO process that uses epigenetics to develop plant traits 10 times faster than current methods. For Summer Swell, that means increased durability and improved flavor, leading to reduced food waste and a more enjoyable eating experience.
Only one in ten adults eat The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended 1.5 to 2 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. At the same time, food waste costs the U.S. $285 billion per year. Current practices favor yield over taste, and produce can over-ripen on grocery store shelves before it can be sold. Tomatoes from farmers’ markets can taste better and fresher, but their shelf life is limited, often becoming mushy after just a few days.
Summer Swell went from an idea to a new tomato within two years, representing a pace of innovation never before seen in plant breeding. The Summer Swell offers many benefits over existing slicing tomatoes:
A new, more flavorful variety, reminiscent of an heirloom tomato.
Ability to remain on the vine longer and develop more flavor and sweetness, while still being able to better withstand transportation logistics.
Once at a consumer’s home, the typical Summer Swells retains peak flavor and firmness for eight days compared to three days with most heirloom tomatoes.
The Summer Swell was rated as better tasting than grocery store tomatoes by 81% of consumer focus group participants. The tomato will be distributed through NYC-based produce wholesaler distributor S. Katzman Produce and available at grocery stores in the New York metropolitan area beginning in April, 2023.
“Our customers are looking for new, innovative products that offer a great tasting experience,” says Stefanie Katzman, Executive Vice President at S. Katzman Produce. “We were drawn to Summer Swell because of its proprietary platform, which is used to enhance flavor and shelf life, two key factors that contribute to improved consumer experience and increased produce consumption.”
Sound Agriculture is working with more than a dozen companies, including CPGs, ingredient and seed companies, to develop new varieties with improved nutritional content, reduced browning, increased pest resistance, improved texture, enhanced color and more. These improvements address important health and sustainability issues by improving nutrition, increasing access to healthy foods, and reducing food waste and chemical use.
“With On-Demand Breeding, consumers have access to great tasting plant-based options today without having to wait the five to ten years required by the traditional breeding process,” said Adam Litle, CEO, Sound Agriculture. “By tuning natural trait expression the Summer Swell tomato gives people access to delicious heirloom tomato flavor anytime of year.”