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Phytelligence Inks Deal with Seven Star Fruits, a Mahyco Grow Company, India’s Leading Agriculture Innovator

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Phytelligence brings MultiPHY™ technology to India to revolutionize Indian horticulture 

Phytelligence, a leading agricultural biotechnology company revolutionizing the way food crops are grown, today announces a partnership with Mahyco Grow to provide Indian farmers with the most advanced technology available in horticulture.

The plants produced by Seven Star Fruits, a company of Mahyco Grow, using the Phytelligence MultiPHY™ process will support higher density planting systems, which results in higher yields per acre and more sustainable production. The partnership will also enable the delivery of new varieties of apples, cherries, peaches, plums, berries, grapes, nuts, oranges and other tropical fruits to Mahyco Grow’s existing customers and the region’s farmers.

Utilizing Mahyco Grow’s extensive network and agricultural expertise along with Phytelligence’s world-leading MultiPHY™ technology, the partnership aims to help growers plant modern rootstocks and varieties, improve farm incomes and increase fruit quality. The first trees of the partnership will be available for sale in 2018 and delivered in the spring of 2019.

“Collaborating with a group as innovative as Mahyco Grow presents a strong step forward for Phytelligence internationally,” said Phytelligence CEO Ken Hunt. “It’s a major win not only for the company, but also for growers in the region who can look forward to improved plant material and a much higher profit in the coming years. Our mission is to serve growers across the globe and this partnership takes us one step closer to fulfilling that promise.”

“Combining the expertise of both companies will have a significant impact on farmers’ lives by improving yields and providing disease resistant plants,” remarked Aashish Barwale, Director, Seven Star Fruits Private Limited. “As a leading group in the agriculture field, we’ve experienced first-hand how innovations in agronomy make a very real difference to the people within our own communities. We look forward to making an impact in the fruit industry in India together.”

About Mahyco Grow

Mahyco Grow, formerly known as Barwale Group, was founded in 1964 by Dr. Badrinarayan Barwale, a World Food Prize winner, with a vision to resolve farming challenges by expanding the availability of the latest scientific solutions in seeds. The group has pioneered seed innovations in India with the introduction of several hybrids and Bt Cotton – the first in the country’s history. The Group’s research infrastructure in India has recently expanded its presence to South East Asia and Africa. Seven Star Fruits Pvt Ltd, a part of Mahyco Grow, is dedicated to improving the global fresh fruit industry through agricultural innovation.

About Phytelligence

Phytelligence is an agricultural technology company that is revolutionizing food crops. Utilizing its proprietary growing techniques to provide superior quality crops, Phytelligence enables higher grower profit by increasing speed to harvest while reducing input costs. Phytelligence provides additional value to food crop growers and plant breeders through the application of advanced genetics enabling delivery of accurate plants, disease screening, plant repository services, securing of intellectual property, and the ability to co-develop new varieties of food crops. In addition, Phytelligence has a growing pipeline of biological and compound solutions aimed at improving returns throughout the food crop value chain.

Phytelligence was founded in 2012 by Dr. Amit Dhingra, Associate Professor of Horticulture Genomics and Biotechnology Research at Washington State University. Phytelligence is headquartered in Seattle with facilities in Burien and Pullman, Wash. and Portland, Ore. Currently, Phytelligence has over 100 employees and continues to grow.

Contacts

Phytelligence:
Communiqué PR for Phytelligence
Janae Frisch and AnnMarie Henriksson, +1-206-282-4923 ext. 125
Phytelligence@communiquepr.com
or
Mahyco Grow:
Subbarao Appemane, +91 22 67573000
Corporate Communication – Lead
subbarao.appemane@mahyco.com

Phytelligence Welcomes New Vice President of Global Sales for Nuts, Hops and New Crops

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Agronomy expert Peter Viss joins Seattle-based startup to lead company’s nut, hops and berry sales

Phytelligence, a leading agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing the way food crops are grown, today announced the addition of Peter Viss to its team as vice president of global sales for nuts, hops and new crops. In this role, Viss will lead the company’s efforts to provide new and existing growers with premium planting stock in these segments.

Viss will work with Phytelligence’s customer service, accounting and marketing teams to ensure growers have access to the highest quality nut trees, hop plants and new product lines. Overseeing these segments, Viss will also work to both educate growers on the economic benefits associated with planting Phytelligence’s true-to-type, virus-free plants and to respond to growers’ need for information on best agronomic practices.

Viss has extensive industry experience driving tissue culture strategy, research and variety development with organizations such as Plant Genetics, Plant Research Laboratory, Brooding Bee and Honey Company, Dave Wilson Nursery and High Desert Ag. During this time, he facilitated the integration of new commercial planting practices with the introduction of the self-fertile “Independence” almond variety to Southern California and Arizona as salesman and in-house agronomist at Dave Wilson Nursery. Viss was also paramount in the development of tissue culture protocol for the commercial production of “Prunus” hybrid rootstock and the first genetic engineering of an apple as research director at Plant Research Laboratory.

“The combination of Peter’s sales and research experience in agronomy and tissue culture are unparalleled,” said Ken Hunt, CEO of Phytelligence. “His deep understanding of the study and development required to propagate virus-free varieties and optimize growth in the field will be instrumental to further company innovation and better support industry growers in the nut, hops and new crop segments.”

Prior to joining Phytelligence, Viss founded his own consulting firm, Viss Consulting in 1997, where he established four tissue culture laboratories and oversaw tissue culture programs developed for prunus, pistachio, juglans, garlic and a variety of annual crops. As owner of the firm, he provided extensive agronomy consulting to more than 20,000 acres of almond and pistachio growers, as well as a number of grape growers in wineries including South Coast Winery, David Bruce Winery, Tanner Vineyards Winery and Vindema Winery.

Viss is also a pioneer in worm compost and compost tea practices. He aided in introducing this strategy to California’s agricultural market – securing more than $2.5 million dollars in sales within six years – and since, has helped companies integrate organic compost practices and advanced irrigation installations.

“I look forward to continuing my career and passion for agronomy and agriculture with Phytelligence,” said Viss. “I’m excited to join the team and support the company’s commitment to innovating tissue culture and delivering high-quality crops to growers in all segments.”

Phytelligence Works to Protect Rights to Cosmic Crisp Apple and Provide Greater Access for Growers

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In late February, we filed a lawsuit against Washington State University (WSU) to protect Phytelligence’s right to propagate Cosmic Crisp apples and increase availability for Washington state growers.

In 2012, we were granted an option for a license from WSU or its agent to commercially propagate Cosmic Crisp. We have exercised that option; however, WSU and its agents have not yet provided the license to Phytelligence. Our efforts have been met with repeated delays and misinformation, ultimately preventing us from propagating Cosmic Crisp to date. During this time, Washington state growers have been increasingly frustrated with unnecessarily restricted access to Cosmic Crisp.

We recognize and value WSU’s broad and continuing support of Phytelligence; our concerns in this matter stem from the actions of a few individuals within the University. As such, concurrent to this legal filing, we are continuing to work directly with WSU to identify a mutually beneficial resolution.

Given our long-standing relationship with WSU and our shared interests, we are optimistic this issue can be resolved to everyone’s benefit.

Ken Hunt

CEO, Phytelligence

Phytelligence Announces Janus Management to Consult and Catalyze Sales Discussions in Argentina

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Phytelligence, a leading agricultural biotechnology company revolutionizing the way food crops are grown, today announced that it will accept grower order introductions made by agricultural engineer, Ing. Agr. Jorge Aragón – through JANUS Management and Consulting. This decision will catalyze discussions for the sale of rootstocks and finished trees throughout the country of Argentina. Phytelligence will bring its advanced MultiPHY™ technology to South America to meet the needs of growers looking to plant new land or rebuild existing orchards. The MultiPHY™ process provides disease- and virus-free, identity-confirmed plant material to growers, helping them save money by providing them the largest volumes of the highest quality plants that fruit faster than the competition.

Aragón has extensive knowledge of Phytelligence’s capabilities, as well as a deep understanding of the specific needs of Argentinian growers. Phytelligence will work together with Aragón to fulfill orders in the desired quantities.

“We’re looking forward to facilitating the delivery of superior quality trees to the growers of Argentina through Ing. Agr. Jorge Aragón,” said Phytelligence CEO, Ken Hunt. “Our mission is to serve growers across the globe, and our connection with Aragón and JANUS Management and Consulting brings us one step closer to accomplishing this goal.”

To inquire about ordering please contact:

Ing. Agr. Jorge Aragón

Email: jaragon@janusmcp.com

Mobile: +59 9 299 571 1049

 

Paul Nelson, Phytellgience

Email: paulnelson@phytelligence.com

Mobile: +1 509–860-2400

 

About Phytelligence

Phytelligence is an agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing food crops. Utilizing its proprietary growing techniques to provide superior quality crops, Phytelligence enables higher grower profit by increasing speed to harvest while reducing input costs. Phytelligence provides additional value to food crop growers and plant breeders through the application of advanced genetics enabling delivery of accurate plants, disease screening, plant repository services, securing of intellectual property, and the ability to co-develop new varieties of food crops. In addition, Phytelligence has a growing pipeline of biological and compound solutions aimed at improving returns throughout the food crop value chain.

Phytelligence was founded in 2012 by Dr. Amit Dhingra, Associate Professor of Horticulture Genomics and Biotechnology Research at Washington State University. Phytelligence is headquartered in Seattle with labs and greenhouses in Burien, Washington, Pullman, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Currently, Phytelligence has more than 100 employees and continues to grow.

Phytelligence Welcomes New Executive Vice President of Marketing

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Phytelligence, a leading agricultural biotechnology company revolutionizing the way food crops are grown, has appointed Bill McClain as executive vice president of marketing. In this role, McClain will drive marketing strategy to expand Phytelligence’s work with growers of food crops globally.

McClain has played a vital leadership role in brand management at global companies including Clarisonic, acquired by L’Oréal in 2011, and Sonicare, acquired by Philips in 2000. He also helped launch products from such companies as Johnson & Johnson and Oral-B.

“Bill is a proven marketing leader and we welcome his strategic expertise to further develop our brand position in the agricultural space,” said Ken Hunt CEO of Phytelligence. “His passion, experience, and insights enhance these capabilities, and we’re excited to have him on the team.”

Over the past 10 years, McClain has developed a series of successful partnerships and strategic marketing initiatives. During his time at Philips, he introduced the marketing strategy and led the multi-country marketing team that doubled the number of European Sonicare sales in just two years.

McClain is also a trusted instructor. For the past five years he has taught certificate courses to international marketing professionals at the University of Washington’s Professional & Continuing Education College, and Experience America’s Business Culture Understanding & Marketing program.

“I’m excited to be part of such an innovative company that’s making a real difference,” said McClain. “In partnership with growers, Phytelligence brings more high-nutrition food to market faster and more sustainably. I look forward to building on the brand’s success with new international marketing initiatives.”

About Phytelligence

Phytelligence is an agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing the way food crops are grown. Utilizing its proprietary growing techniques to provide superior quality crops, Phytelligence enables higher grower profit by increasing speed to harvest and reducing input costs. Phytelligence provides additional value to food crop growers and plant breeders through the application of advanced genetics enabling guaranteed delivery of accurate plants, disease screening, plant repository services, securing of intellectual property, and the ability to co-develop new varieties of food crops. The company has a growing pipeline of biological and compound solutions aimed at improving returns throughout the food crop value chain. Phytelligence was founded by Dr. Amit Dhingra in 2012 out of his Horticulture Genomics and Biotechnology Research laboratory at Washington State University and is headquartered in Seattle with offices in Pullman, Wash. and Portland, Ore. Learn more at www.phytelligence.com.

Media Contacts

PR for Phytelligence
Janae Frisch and AnnMarie Henriksson

206-282-4923 ext. 125

phytelligence@communiquepr.com

Phytelligence Welcomes New Vice President of Global Sales for Grapes

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SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Phytelligence, a leading agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing food crops, today announced the addition of Curt Granger to its team as vice president of global sales for the grapes segment. Granger will lead the company’s pursuit of new customers for rootstock, whole plant, genetic analysis and repository services in the grapes and wine agricultural market to fuel additional growth.

Granger will collaborate with Phytelligence’s customer service, accounting and marketing teams to ensure the company delivers high-quality plants and services to its customers. As the vice president of global sales for grapes, Granger will provide grape growers with genetically confirmed, true-to-type grape rootstock and self-rooted plant material.

“Curt’s strategic thinking and expertise in greenhouse, bio-agriculture and crop innovation align well with our objectives to deliver genetically confirmed, virus-free plants to growers,” said Ken Hunt, CEO of Phytelligence. “His deep knowledge of the challenges and opportunities faced by growers will further expand our efforts to address the rootstock bottleneck that has been plaguing the industry for the past several decades.”

Granger began his career as assistant to the vineyards manager at Buena Vista Winery in the Carneros wine grape growing region in California. He then moved to Bien Nacido and French Camp Vineyards where he was Northern California’s wine grape, bulk wine sales manager placing more than 5,000 tons of grapes in long-term contracts with North Coast wineries.

After eight years as director of marketing for California Kiwifruit Commission, he transitioned to executive vice president of marketing for Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, where the marketing activities he directed supported the increase of retail table grape sales to $1.7 billion from 1997 to 2004. He also held a vice president of marketing role with premium tree fruit brand Ripe ‘N Ready, and was most recently developing markets for biopesticides nationally and on the West Coast.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Phytelligence team,” said Granger. “The company’s commitment to delivering superior quality results is unparalleled. They have a validated solution and an impressive growth trajectory that I am excited to help drive forward.”

About Phytelligence

Phytelligence is an agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing the way food crops are grown. Utilizing its proprietary growing techniques to provide superior quality crops, Phytelligence enables higher grower profit by increasing speed to harvest and reducing input costs. Phytelligence provides additional value to food crop growers and plant breeders through the application of advanced genetics enabling guaranteed delivery of accurate plants, disease screening, plant repository services, securing of intellectual property, and the ability to co-develop new varieties of food crops. The company has a growing pipeline of biological and compound solutions aimed at improving returns throughout the food crop value chain. Phytelligence was founded by Dr. Amit Dhingra in 2012 out of his Horticulture Genomics and Biotechnology Research laboratory at Washington State University and is headquartered in Seattle with offices in Pullman, Wash. and Portland, Ore. Learn more at www.phytelligence.com.

Phytelligence Named to GeekWire’s Prestigious Seattle 10 List

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SEATTLE, Wash. – November 15, 2017 – Phytelligence, an agricultural biotechnology company revolutionizing the way food crops are grown, was recently named to the GeekWire Seattle 10, an innovative list of groundbreaking startups based in the Seattle region. GeekWire is a fast-growing, national technology news site that publishes the Seattle 10 list yearly.

To select the winners, a panel of heavy hitters from within the tech industry was asked to find the next Zillow, Amazon or Expedia from the ever-growing Seattle tech pool. Only companies with legitimate product traction that have moved out of the “idea” stage were considered for the list.

The Seattle 10 list companies will display canvas posters about their history and business at Seattle’s Museum of History and Innovation through February 2018. The canvases will be unveiled at the GeekWire Gala on December 6, 2017 at MOHAI in Seattle.

The judges noted the combination of industry disruption and the environmental advantages of Phytelligence appealed to the Seattle 10 panel, who look for organizations with both compelling technology and a global benefit.

Phytelligence helps fruit growers across the globe by providing superior quality plants using their proprietary MultiPHY™ micropropagation technology. Starting plants in custom formulated, nutrient-rich gel enables rapid growth of the healthiest and strongest plants possible for growers to plant in their fields. The plants are also genetically screened to confirm accurate shipment of correct varieties and ensure that they are virus and disease free. This puts money back into the grower’s pocket by generating more sales faster while reducing costs from planting the wrong type of tree, or mortality from diseased plants.

In addition to an increase in ROI for produce growers, there are several environmental benefits to using Phytelligence plants and the MultiPHY™ method, including significant water savings. Plants grown in the proprietary MultiPHY™ gel use less water throughout their life cycle compared to traditional nurseries, a critical benefit for drought-ridden regions. Healthier plants also require fewer pesticides and chemicals and the ability to produce plants faster leads to more available produce globally.

About Phytelligence

Phytelligence is an agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing food crops. Utilizing its proprietary growing techniques to provide superior quality crops, Phytelligence enables higher grower profit by increasing speed to harvest while reducing input costs. Phytelligence provides additional value to food crop growers and plant breeders through the application of advanced genetics enabling delivery of accurate plants, disease screening, plant repository services, securing of intellectual property, and the ability to co-develop new varieties of food crops. In addition, Phytelligence has a growing pipeline of biological and compound solutions aimed at improving returns throughout the food crop value chain.

Phytelligence was founded in 2012 by Dr. Amit Dhingra, Associate Professor of Horticulture Genomics and Biotechnology Research laboratory at Washington State University.  Phytelligence is headquartered in Seattle with locations in Burien, Washington, Pullman, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Currently, Phytelligence has 75 employees and continues to grow.

 

Phytelligence Steps in to Solve Florida Citrus Rootstock Problem

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Phytelligence, an agricultural biotechnology company revolutionizing the way food crops are grown, has signed a citrus rootstock licensing agreement with Florida Foundation Seed Producers, giving Phytelligence customers the opportunity to access true-to-type, virus and disease free rootstock that’s also citrus-greening disease tolerant.

The licensed rootstocks were released as part of the University of Florida’s Citrus Fast Track Release Option. The citrus rootstocks were selected based on their positive reaction to Huanglongbing disease (HLB, or citrus greening disease) during field trials under severe HLB disease pressure. Scion trees grafted onto these rootstocks showed a reduced frequency of infection and reduced disease symptoms once infected when compared to other commercial rootstocks, according the Florida Foundation Seed Producers.

The University of Florida license gives Phytelligence propagation rights to the following citrus rootstock cultivars:

  • UFR-1
  • UFR-2
  • UFR-3
  • UFR-4
  • UFR-5
  • UFR-6
  • UFR-15
  • UFR-16
  • UFR-17

As part of their emphasis on replenishing the citrus industry in Florida, Phytelligence will immediately establish Florida-based facilities to begin the rootstock initiation process. Phytelligence will also continue to genetically confirm all rootstocks that come from their facilities, eliminating the rootstock mix-up issues prevalent in the industry. In addition to being genetically confirmed via a DNA-based process, all plants produced by Phytelligence are disease and virus free.

“It is absolutely critical to plant trees with rootstocks that are tolerant to citrus greening disease and the only way to be 100 percent sure the rootstocks planted are true-to-type, is to use a DNA-based certification process,” stated Dr. Fred Gmitter, Citrus Breeder, University of Florida.

Citrus greening disease has plagued Florida and the surrounding areas, leading growers to rip out infected trees and scramble to plant new, disease-tolerant rootstock. The combination of infected orchards and recent natural disasters has left growers with few options to obtain citrus-greening disease tolerant rootstock to replant. With this licensing deal, Phytelligence will be able to provide confirmed true-to-type rootstock to growers at a much more rapid pace.

To inquire about citrus rootstock, contact Paul Nelson at paulnelson@phytelligence.com , or at (509) 860-2400. To learn more about Phytelligence, visit our website: www.phytelligence.com.

About Phytelligence

Phytelligence is an agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing food crops. Utilizing its proprietary growing techniques to provide superior quality crops, Phytelligence enables higher grower profit by increasing speed to harvest while reducing input costs. Phytelligence provides additional value to food crop growers and plant breeders through the application of advanced genetics enabling delivery of accurate plants, disease screening, plant repository services, securing of intellectual property, and the ability to co-develop new varieties of food crops. In addition, Phytelligence has a growing pipeline of biological and compound solutions aimed at improving returns throughout the food crop value chain.

Phytelligence was founded in 2012 by Dr. Amit Dhingra, Associate Professor of Horticulture Genomics and Biotechnology Research laboratory at Washington State University.  Phytelligence is headquartered in Seattle with locations in Pullman, Washington and Portland, Oregon. In 2016, Phytelligence expanded their footprint to include an 8-acre Seattle-based greenhouse space and a Portland-based tissue culture production facility. Currently, Phytelligence has 75 employees and continues to grow.

###

Contact:

Ashley Mann

Director of Marketing and PR for Phytelligence

ashleymann@phytelligence.com

(206) 300-9891

 

 

 

 

 

Customers are willing to pay a premium only on high quality, fresh sliced pears

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Customers are willing to pay a premium only on high quality, fresh sliced pears

Recently, a willingness-to-pay study has shown that consumers are willing to pay up to 20 cents more for high-quality, sliced, fresh packed pears treated with a ripening compound compared to sliced fresh packed pears with no treatment.

The study shows the promise of the slicing segment to the pear industry: Utilization of small-sized pears, and the proposed premium they could bring, has the potential to add up to $100 million to the financial bottom line of the pear industry in the next five years.

The problem with pear consumption

The North American fresh pear industry has cited increasing per capita consumption as its top priority year after year. However, customer habits, biology of the fruit and perhaps the current fruit packing and sale infrastructure stand in the way.

Pears are unique in that they are harvested mature but unripe, and the fruit is then conditioned to ripen. Conditioning is a process in which pears are exposed to cold temperature (less than 1 degree Celsius) for a pre-determined length of time, which is cultivar-specific (Sugar & Basile, 2013). To deter losses during handling, shippers and retailers tend to sell pears without conditioning, resulting in less than desirable fruit and diminishing repeat purchase by consumers.

Pre-ripened or conditioned pears, on the other hand, attract repeat customers, and it is evident in their increased willingness to pay for a consistent quality fruit (Zhang et. al, 2010; Gallardo, 2011; Gallardo et al., 2011).

The early 2000s brought a timely gift for the apple industry in the form of 1-methycyclopropene (1-MCP) or SmartFresh, just as consumers were getting disenchanted with the quality of the fruit on the shelf. 1-MCP binds to the ethylene receptors and makes the fruit insensitive to ethylene, prolonging its storage and improving the shelf life and quality of the fruit.

Not to be left behind, the pear industry, which has not seen any major leaps in consumption over the last several decades, tried using 1-MCP in the hopes of delivering a perfect piece of fruit to the consumer. 1-MCP worked in blocking ripening in pears. In fact, it worked too well. Pears treated with 1-MCP failed to ripen consistently after they were removed from the controlled atmosphere (Argenta et al., 2016; Wang et al., 2015; Chiriboga et al., 2013; Watkins, 2006). No amount of conditioning or exogenous ethylene could rectify the situation.

The quest for a perfect slice of pear

The difficulties of mass producing perfect fresh sliced pears were best summarized by Tony Freytag, chief executive officer of Crunch Pak, a Cashmere, Washington-based operation that controls over 50 percent of the nearly $500 million fresh sliced apple market, during a presentation at the 2013 Washington State Horticultural Association annual conference (Warner, 2013). A juicy, melting pear at 6- to 8-pound firmness range is good for eating but will turn to mush when sliced.

Pear fruit with slightly higher firmness of 8- to 10-pounds has good flavor but bruises heavily when sliced, and fruit with 12- to 14-pound firmness, while great for slicing, has no flavor and dries out quickly. The sweet spot may be at the 10- to 12-pound range, but achieving a 21-day shelf life like apples would not be feasible (Freytag 2013). Anyone who deals with pears knows that it is easy to sort the fruit by size but not by firmness. It seems like an insurmountable issue.

Closer to reality

A technology patented by Washington State University (Dhingra and Hendrickson, 2017) shows increasing potential for the predictable and consistent ripening of the pear fruit treated with 1-MCP. As a first application, we evaluated if we could ripen a 1-MCP treated pear after slicing.

The preliminary results were very encouraging with the 1-MCP treated fruit: slicing and then treating the fruit with the ripening compound resulted in ethylene production at five times that of the 1-MCP treated fruit control. With this result, we partnered with Crunch Pak, and supported by the Washington State Department of Agriculture and USA Pears, we produced and evaluated fresh sliced pears. The shelf life was more than 21 days; however, the ripening compound treatment resulted in the production of sugars and typical pear aroma within three days of packaging.

The willingness-to-pay study that followed, conducted at the Portland Food Innovation Center, showed that it is critical to focus on quality.

Proof is in the slice, so to speak

For any commodity, the real proof that a product has any value is when a customer is willing to put their money where their mouth is. Analysis of the responses obtained from 120 participants in the study revealed that people who liked sliced pears were willing to pay up to 20 cents more per 2-ounce packet for pears treated with the ripening component over untreated pears (Ikiz et al – in review).

Overall, that is about 46 percent more than the retail prices for a 2-ounce bag of sliced apples. The consumer sample who participated in the study demanded healthful and convenient products. Fresh sliced pears have the potential to provide all these advantages and enable a vertical jump in consumption.

The analysis revealed that fresh sliced pears were liked by consumers who prefer locally grown products, buy at conventional grocery stores and consider as important labels indicating certified organic, healthfulness, sustainable agriculture, food safety, non-GMO and eco-labels. In general consumers in our sample who liked fresh packed sliced pears consumed Anjou, Bartlett and Asian pears more frequently compared to the consumers who disliked fresh packed sliced pears. If this study is any indication, any compromise on quality can deal a further death blow for pear consumption.

The key is quality

Time and again, the ability to deliver consistent superior quality triumphs in the market place. Placing a bad product on the shelf has its perils, especially as a younger generation demands convenience and consistent quality. Another misstep can be a slippery slope for the pear industry in particular; the industry has not seen a major upswing in consumer purchases due to lack of novel offerings and competition from other fruit, such as berries and fruit-derived products, for several decades.

Based on preliminary calculations derived from personal communications with some pear industry members, it has been estimated that the value of a single pear fruit at 14 cents increases to $1.14 when sliced. The fresh sliced apple industry is currently valued at about $500 million with exponential increase in demand over the next decade. The projections predict that a high-quality fresh sliced pear market could become a $100 million market in the next five years.

An opportunity to add millions of dollars to the pear industry’s financial bottom line beckons. •

– by Amit Dhingra and Karina Gallardo

The $363,000 study by Amit Dhingra and Karina Gallardo received funding from the Washington State Department of Agriculture and USA Pears, a federal marketing board. Amit Dhingra, Ph.D., is an associate professor of genomics and biotechnology in Washington State University’s Department of Horticulture in Pullman, Washington. Karina Gallardo, Ph.D., is an associate professor and Extension economist at WSU’s Puyallup Research and Extension Center.

References

Sugar, D., and Basile, S. R. (2013). Integrated ethylene and temperature conditioning for induction of ripening capacity in ‘Anjou’ and ‘Comice’ pears. Postharvest Biology and Technology, 83, 9-16. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.postharvbio.2013.03.010
Zhang, H., Gallardo, R. K., McCluskey, J. J., & Kupferman, E. M. (2010). Consumers’ willingness to pay for treatment-induced quality attributes in Anjou pears. Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 35, 105–117.
Gallardo, R. K. (2011). Choice experiments’ findings: A tool for fruit agribusiness managers decision making. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 14, 95–110.
Gallardo, R. K., Kupferman, E., Colonna, A. (2011). Willingness-to-pay for optimal Anjou pear quality. HortScience, 46, 452–456.
Argenta, L.C., Mattheis, J.P., Fan, X., Amarante, CVT. Managing ‘Bartlett’ pear fruit ripening with 1-methylcyclopropene reapplication during cold storage. Postharvest Biology and Technology 2016, 113:125-130.
Wang, Y., Sugar, D. 1-MCP efficacy in extending storage life of ‘Bartlett’ pears is affected by harvest maturity, production elevation, and holding temperature during treatment delay. Postharvest Biology and Technology 2015, 103:1-8.
Chiriboga, M-A., Saladie, M., Gine Bordonaba, J., Recasens, I., Garcia-Mas, J., Larrigaudiere, C.. Effect of cold storage and 1-MCP treatment on ethylene perception, signalling and synthesis: Influence on the development of the evergreen behaviour in ‘Conference’ pears. Postharvest Biology and Technology 2013, 86:212-220.
Watkins C.B. The use of 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) on fruits and vegetables. Biotechnol Adv 2006, 24:389-409.
Warner, G. Pear slicing is not perfected yet. In Good Fruit Grower. Edited by. Wenatchee, WA: Washington State Fruit Commission; 2014:16. vol 65.
Dhingra, A., Hendrickson C. Control of ripening and senescence in pre-harvest and post-harvest plants and plant materials by manipulating alternative oxidase activity. US Patent 2017, 9,591,847.
Ikiz, D., Gallardo, K., Hewitt, S., Dhingra, A. Assessing Consumers’ Preferences and Willingness to Pay For Novel Sliced Packed Fresh Pears: A Latent Class Approach. 2017 – In review.

UPDATE: Phytelligence Raises $11.95m Towards $16m Series B

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UPDATE: Phytelligence Raises $11.95m Towards $16m Series B

**UPDATE: Added additional Avrio Capital investment of $5 million.**

Agricultural biotechnology and micropropagation company Phytelligence has raised $11.95 million of a potential $16 million Series B. The company announced an initial close of $6.95 million in early July and increased that by $5 million when Avrio Capital committed in late August. The company still expects to reach $16 million total according to an email from Phytelligence, closing in early September.

This round was led by Cowles Company, a family-owned investor out of Spokane, WA with investments in media, clean tech, and some agriculture, among other areas. Also participating in the round was WRF Capital, the investing arm of the Washington Research Foundation.

“The decision to invest in Phytelligence was an easy one to make once we saw the tremendous gap between the current nursery capabilities and the needs of the modern grower,” said Steve Rector, CFO of Cowles Company.

Phytelligence’s patented and trademarked MULTIPHY process enables apples, cherries, peaches, pears, grapes, hops, berries and nuts to grow five times faster with fewer inputs using a non-soil, nutrient-dense growing medium. This speeds up the process for growers to get new, designer fruit varieties like Honeycrisp apples and cotton candy grapes to market as well as alleviating age-old industry bottlenecks. Growers traditionally had to wait just to be able to obtain rootstock for new crops.

Now, Phytelligence provides genetically-verified and virus-free trees and rootstock to farmers in a sector long-plagued by a lack of transparency. CEO Ken Hunt says that in the past, 10% of apple trees sold were mislabeled as to their type.

Phytelligence technology spun out out of Washington State University as founder and CSO Professor Amit Dhingra was woking with local Washington farmers to develop new apple varieties using micropropagation. He founded Phytelligence when the demand from farmers became too great to meet in an academic setting. Now the company offers tissue culture and genetic testing for trees already in the field, as well as selling rootstock and plants.

Phytelligence will use the new funds to further expand its propagation capacity including taking on more greenhouse space.

“We’re also spending a tremendous amount of time and money to constantly improve the process — looking at robotics; looking at the ability to do grafting in a tissue culture lab with a younger plant to speed the process,” said CEO Ken Hunt, who joined the company in 2016.

In addition to being the only genetically-verified rootstock provider, Phytelligence is also always looking for the next great apple variety, but Hunt says despite Phytelligence’s quick pace for a tree-grower, these things cannot be rushed.

“Nature is only so fast. I feel like we’ve got the tools and the ability to make very good breeding selections that will make the discovery of the next Honeycrisp really fast. You just gotta sit there and wait for the plants to grow.” Even after a winning variety is discovered, much more breeding and cultivation is required to reach critical mass to bring the new variety to market. Hunt says that the fastest possible timeline for a new apple variety is seven to 10 years.

Since founding in 2012, the company has grown to around 70 employees with greenhouse space in Washington and a tissue culture lab in Oregon. Dhingra also still runs an R&D lab at Washington State University and Phytelligence has right of first refusal to any new tech developed there.

Uniquely, much of the company’s previous funding came from the industry including various farming groups along with four leading nurseries.

“When I started the company, I was grateful that the industry was the first to come to the table with financial support,” Dhingra told AgFunderNews in 2016. “Phytelligence came from the industry as growers defined what their problems were and through their support and guidance we were able not only to develop solutions for them but to test them and improve on them. In many ways, this is the true definition of a democratic process: from the industry, by the industry and for the industry!”

Phytelligence has raised $12.6 million total to date.