Jacqueline Applegate

Eat, Drink and Be Healthy!

Most of us know the expression, “Eat, drink and be happy.”  As I was attending this year’s massive Fruit Logistica trade show in Berlin, it struck me that this event is really about health and happiness. Much like a perfectly prepared vegetable or fruit salad, this show combines different sectors of the fresh produce business to showcase how innovative products and services are delivering delicious, healthy foods worldwide.

Most of us can recall how our mothers insisted that we eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Little did I know that one day I would be asked to lead Bayer’s Vegetable Seeds business – which would give me the perfect opportunity to combine my mother’s wisdom with our company’s core mission: To advance human health and nutrition by providing people with a safe and sustainable food supply.

Fruits and vegetables are at the heart of Bayer’s health and nutrition goals. First, they are an indispensable part of a healthy human diet. It’s no secret that eating a diet rich in fresh produce provides an important source of fiber, minerals and vitamins and promoting a healthy diet is essential in reducing risks associated with obesity and chronic diseases. Second, from a business perspective, this market offers attractive growth rates and profitability opportunities, which enables us to make future investments in innovative products and services. Finally, fruits and vegetable crops are important economic engines of growth around the world, particularly for smallholder farmers, which can lead to greater prosperity, stability and security not only for their families, but also for entire communities.

The benefits of promoting a healthy diet containing high-quality, nutrient-rich produce may be obvious, but so too are the challenges we face in meeting our future food demand. These include a changing climate, competition for limited natural resources, and a growing population with different needs and expectations. As our world becomes more urbanized, conflicts between cities and rural areas over scarce land and water resources will only increase. Consumer preferences for specialty foods, convenience packaging and home delivery options will strain our industry’s ability to cost-effectively supply their needs. And the public’s continuing concern about how we grow our food and what impact it has on the environment requires us to be more transparent about our products and practices.

Dr. Jacqueline M. Applegate, President Global Vegetable Seeds & Environmental Science at Bayer
Dr. Jacqueline M. Applegate, President Global Vegetable Seeds & Environmental Science at Bayer
Dr. Jacqueline M. Applegate, President Global Vegetable Seeds & Environmental Science at Bayer

While the concerns described above may be daunting, the only way to successfully address them is by maintaining a steady investment in innovation. With more than 4,000 fruit and vegetable experts, two major seed brands (De Ruiter and Seminis), and a historic commitment to research and development, Bayer is well-positioned to take on these challenges. Our vision is to shape the future of horticulture by delivering world-class innovation, pioneering farming’s digital transformation, and by setting new standards for sustainability to meet the needs of growers, consumers and our planet.

And Bayer is not in this alone. That’s because no amount of innovation will be successful without the full engagement of the entire fruit and vegetable food chain. Our food chain partnerships work at every level to accomplish our vision and ensure the success of each of our partners. At this year’s Fruit Logistica Exhibitor Forum, we focused on how these partnerships are working in Latin America to deliver safe and nutritious foods to this important region and the world. In Ecuador, for example, our tailored solution enables banana growers to reduce the number of application cycles and, therefore, chemical inputs, while still ensuring high yields and quality. This is made possible by a combination of innovative nematicides, effective biologicals with low environmental impact, and digital services that allow growers to visualize, analyze and make recommendations driven by data.

Working to bring healthy foods to people all over the world may not be easy, but it’s a labor of love. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, I think we can rephrase that old expression to say, “Eat, drink and be healthy.” You know, I think our moms would be proud!

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