UPDATED: Greenhouse seed supply deal means sourcing changes - The Packer

UPDATED: Greenhouse seed supply deal means sourcing changes

10/14/2009 04:13:47 PM
Ashley Bentley

(UPDATED COVERAGE, Oct. 15) Just a few months before its existing agreement expired, Westgro Sales Inc. signed a bigger and better deal with Enza Zaden, a Netherlands-based seed company, to be the exclusive distributor of its seeds in the U.S. and Canada, with the exception of Quebec.

Greenhouse vegetable growers in all of the U.S. and Canada, except Quebec, will be sourcing their Enza Zaden seeds through Westgro for the long-term, according to the deal.

Plant Prod Quebec will continue to serve growers in Quebec, according to a Westgro news release.

Although Delta, British Columbia-based Westgro has been an exclusive marketer of Enza Zaden greenhouse vegetables seeds in the Western regions of the U.S. and Canada, this deal gives the company a wider range on a longer-term basis.

“It’s something we’ve been working on for months,” said Dave Gingrich, vice president of Westgro. 

Enza had already terminated its agreement with MGS Horticulture, Leamington, Ontario, and Westgro has actually had that business for a while, Gingrich said. MGS is focusing on representing different seed companies, Gingrich said.

“Westgro is in the process of adding additional people and resources to better serve this expanded territory,” Gingrich said.

According to a letter from Rob Keene, director of Enza Zaden Export BV, to his customers, Enza Zaden is putting more resources into its North American greenhouse vegetable varieties as well.

“With this partnership we believe we can provide our customers with the best possible products, services and opportunities,” he stated in the letter. “Both Enza and Westgro will be dedicating more technical resources to support North American customers growing existing as well as new varieties.”

Trademark dispute

A new deal presents a potentially awkward situation with the Campari tomato.

Westgro is the plaintiff in a trademark dispute with Mastronardi Produce over its ownership of the Campari name, which refers to a cocktail tomato variety Enza Zaden originally named in the 1990s and continues to supply. While this deal was being worked out, and now for the foreseeable future, Mastronardi Produce and Westgro are asked to work together as buyer and seller of the very seed they’re arguing over, Gingrich said.

Paul Mastronardi, executive vice president of Mastronardi Produce, said his company has not purchased Campari seed from Westgro.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do in the future,” Mastronardi said. “Mastronardi has a secure supply of seeds moving forward.”

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