At Seminis Vegetable Seeds, Inc. (“Seminis”), we take pride and effort in testing our products to help ensure the growers who use our seed have quality produce that has the great transportability and the desired flavor that consumers expect in several of our crops. Jonathan Mein, Americas Technology Development [TD] Trait Lead, is the person who leads the field trials for these research efforts for Seminis. Jonathan is responsible for identifying and unlocking vegetable quality potential; translating quality-based discoveries in the lab into product benefits that deliver value across the value chain.
“While most companies solely focus on the agronomic benefits of a seed, I make sure that our seeds deliver vegetable produce that has great taste, nutrition, and shelf-life,“ said Mein.
In collaboration with Seminis’ Consumer R&D team, our [TD] team looks at key attributes that drive consumer preferences. Through this research we can increase our understanding of the genetics behind these vegetable attributes and use these learnings to develop and launch products that consumers prefer with the same quality and productivity that growers expect from Seminis seed. One example of this would be heirloom tomatoes:
“For so long retailers were so worried about the ability to have tomatoes on their shelves that the flavor profile of many tomato varieties has been overlooked for yield potential and transportability,” said Mein.
Now we are seeing consumers ask for the perceived taste and characteristics of heirloom tomatoes because of the flavor profiles and unique physical appeal. However, heirloom tomatoes can be challenging for growers and have little to no ability to be transported to retailers. What Seminis does is research the genetic makeup of heirloom tomatoes to better understand what traits consumers like and figure out how to breed those traits into our products. The end product is a variety that is easier to grow for growers, transports better to retailers, and has the qualities consumers want. We make sure that we are creating seeds that yield vegetables that make it easier to go from farm to table with produce consumers want to eat.
Jonathan’s team has two primary areas of focus. The first is consumer sensory, which tests everything from vegetable taste and flavor, to nutritional benefits and visual appeal, the second is vegetable produce quality, which focuses on shelf-life, transportability, convenience, and year-round consistency and quality. Through these efforts, Seminis can better understand how our varieties not only fit within the produce aisle but how they fit within the eyes and palate of the consumer, and, ultimately, ensuring the overall benefit to the grower and retailer. Outside of Seminis, Jonathan has three passions that occupy much of his free time: family, food, and golf. Family has taken top priority as Jonathan and his wife, Debra, recently welcomed their first child, Thaddeus. One of the great benefits of working with vegetables is the opportunity to take your job home with you! Jonathan and his wife love to cook and love to eat even more, jumping at any chance to explore new tastes and flavors. If there is any time left in the day, Jonathan enjoys playing golf both recreationally and competitively.