From Gene Edited Seeds to a Health Creation Company
Phase 1: Distributing seedlings, soil conditioners (microorganisms) and fertilizers to home gardeners
There are two major supply chains that we need to cooperate with in order to supply our new tomato’s seeds: farmers and supermarkets. This supply chain can be a bit conservative and cautious when it comes to new types of food. This is an understandable stance to take due to risk management.
A home gardener is a “PROSUMER” who stands in both the farmer and consumer roles at once.
Before talking to more conservative farmers and supermarkets, we recruited home gardeners to both plant and care for the seedlings free of charge as well as provide feedback to us about their experience growing and eating the tomatoes. By doing so, we thought that both farmers and supermarkets would have more peace of mind considering this product going forward if we have advance feedback and impressions.
Our gene edited tomatoes have been approved by each related ministry and agency in Japan as having no scientific or biological issues. We have also announced that the product will be clearly labeled as a “gene edited” product. It is extremely important before commercial activity that there is no biological problem with the product and that it has been approved by the country, but from the perspective of social acceptance, the judgment of the person who actually makes it and eats it is just as, if not more, important.
I have personally said that I'm going to distribute tomatoes that contain GABA in amounts 4 to 5 times more than non-gene edited tomatoes, and most people I’ve offered definitely want it! An overwhelming majority of people wanted to make it and feed it to their wives and relatives. Since we got this kind of positive feedback, it is also true that we thought actually having home gardeners make and eat this and share their experiences on social media is the best way to gain social acceptance.
When we actually called for applications for interested parties to receive free seedlings on our website, about 2,000 people applied in just one week. To be honest, we were surprised at this large amount of interest. In total, over 5,000 people applied and we stopped accepting applications around this number.
We have already started an official LINE group, and have had a very positive response to this, with a lot of interest from members about when they will receive the seedlings and whether it is really good for blood pressure.
Phase 2: D2C Marketing Plan
In conclusion, we decided to try a new approach of D2C (Direct to Consumer) marketing, in which we will process the tomatoes and deliver them directly to consumers. Of course, we would like to make the tomato itself available for consumers, but first we will work with contractors to cultivate the tomatoes and give priority to developing processed products.
We want to deliver foods such as puree, juice, and powder, which are a preserved form of household tomato, directly to consumers.
Our company's mission is to "create new value for consumers and contribute to the interests of farmers."
The reason for this commitment is as follows.
The supply of fruits and vegetables is unstable. We would like to make a product where consumers can drink a little bit every day, like some lactic acid bacteria drinks.
In fact, this tomato is a great product made possible by gene editing technology, as even with eating only a small amount of tomato you can ingest a surprising amount of GABA.
This is in line with our mission of creating new value for consumers.
If people drink even a small container of puree or juice every day, they will be ingesting a considerable amount of tomatoes. Over the last few years, there has been a plunge in tomato prices, leaving farmers in a tough position and resulting in a tragedy of multiple suicides. We will continue to uncover the needs of consumers, and in order to answer them we will contract as many growers as possible and purchase the tomatoes at a higher than market price. Since the tomatoes are for processing, farmers can grow them with confidence at a certain stable price, and even if the fruit is a little bent in size or shape, it can be shipped, so the productivity is totally different. Another of our missions is to contribute to the interests of farmers.
Consumer groups often ask which farmers we have sold gene edited seeds to and about the transparency of distribution -- so-called traceability. We will be involved from the development and sale of seeds to the tomato production itself, and all the cultivation producers will be contracted to ensure the traceability and the quality of this processed tomato. We will also use data to help the contract farmers increase their productivity.
We have provided cultivation management services based on data and analysis of farmers’ water quality, soil, and nutrient elements of crops. We have a track record of more than doubling the yield and significantly increasing the excellence rate of tomato and strawberry farmers by optimally allocating which fertilizers and pesticides be used in what amount and at what time and using biological methods and microorganisms as much as possible. We have launched a new company, PsEco Co., Ltd., which operates on a business model that connects this directly to farmers' smartphones and shares analysis and prescription data.
We are considering applying this technology to contract growers to significantly increase productivity. In the future, it may even be possible for consumers to visualize the amount of chemical fertilizers and pesticides used by contract farmers.
Reinvigorate Japanese agriculture with gene edited seeds and sell to the world.
It is clear from the White Paper on Agriculture that Japanese agriculture is on a downward trend. To revitalize this industry means we must create new value and demand for consumers from agriculture and rural areas.
The production demand for this household tomato will be 12,000 tons or more, based on the assumption that is that one million people drink one pack every day. Currently, assuming that the tomato market price is 400 yen per kilo, if you buy a tomato at 480-520 yen, which is a 20-30% increase (plus yield almost 100%), a new market of 5.5-6 billion yen will be created for farmers.
The yield is close to 100% and there is no need to sort fruits, so the actual income will be higher.
The price of yogurt containing specific lactic acid bacteria, which is often drunk and said to be gentle on the stomach, is 132-3
yen. I think that if puree and juice with enough GABA are sold at the same or a little higher price, there is a good potential market.
In China, there is a concept of looking at "Food As Medicine". We are considering developing a powder form product for this market. It will look similar to a green juice powder. Japanese agricultural products are highly evaluated overseas, but I hope that this high GABA tomato has high potential to be widely sold in China, Asia, and the United States. If that happens, farmers will be able to increase the production of these tomatoes even more, and we would like to bring such tomato production to about 100,000 tons per year. We will make a great contribution to the interests of the farmers, and there is nothing happier than this.
From Gene Edited Seeds to a Health Creation Company
We would like to become a company that develops gene edited seeds while considering the health of people, lead biological cultivation, and propose new value with health foods. We want to always keep this gene edited tomato on the table or at work and be loved as a household tomato that helps protect one’s health.
We would like to sell directly to the consumer (D2C) via the internet and be closer to each customer’s health.
Since April 23rd 2021, Pioneer Ecoscience has just started to accept online pre-orders (currently limited to people living in Japan) of Sicilian Rouge High GABA puree. https://www.p-e-s.jp/news/highGABAtomato/