Fresh Del Monte Produce Partners With Queensland University of Technology
- by Jenna Plasterer
CORAL GABLES, FL & BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - When likeminded companies come together to find a solution, innovation springs forth. Fresh Del Monte Produce can attest to this as the fresh maven has partnered with Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to develop disease-resistant bananas. The cutting-edge partnership will help to identify new ways of growing the fruit that are less susceptible to Tropical Race 4 (TR4), making them more sustainable within our food supply.
“We are addressing critical issues facing our industry as we speak,” said Hans Sauter, Chief Sustainability Officer, and Senior Vice President, Research and Development, Agricultural Services for Fresh Del Monte. “The ability to leverage the capabilities of the team at QUT is very exciting. We see the potential with these revolutionary technologies, and we are looking forward to putting these tools to work to solve real problems facing the world. Fresh Del Monte is proud to partner with a respected research university facility like QUT in this endeavor.”
The research collaboration between Fresh Del Monte and QUT is set in multiple phases over the next five years, according to a press release. Ultimately, the end result will be unique commercial resistant banana variety releases. Together, the partners see this combined effort as a crucial step in ushering in the future innovation of the category.
Focusing on utilizing breakthroughs in plant trait developments, the pair are working to cultivate bananas that are resistant to crop-threatening diseases, specifically the TR4 strain. The disease is a fungus that has been threatening banana crops for decades and has seen increased spreading over the past 10 years, which impacts the future availability of bananas for consumers.
Fresh Del Monte’s partnership with QUT aligns with the company’s global operational priorities and will help strengthen its position within the banana sector. It will also aid the company in increasing consumer loyalty through product quality and continued innovation. Additionally, Fresh Del Monte is seeking to further its dedication to sustainability.
The investment will position the company as a leading global banana marketer openly funding scientific research to address the threat of critical crop disease against farmers, their livelihoods, and the entire supply chain.
The QUT scientific team is being led by Professor James Dale, a top researcher in biotechnology at the university. His career has spanned over 30 years and has focused on critical tropical fruit research with an emphasis on on biofortification, molecular farming, and disease resistance, including both traditional and genetically modified bananas.
Professor Dale’s innovative research has earned him international recognition and collaborations with numerous researchers, non-profit organizations, and corporations, many of which focused on critical aspects of tropical crops and global health.
“These new gene-editing technologies represent a new opportunity for addressing the global food supply in ways we never imagined,” said Dale. “Our partnership with Fresh Del Monte represents a great opportunity for our research to reach society in an efficient and commercially feasible manner.”
Dale’s research team has already seen promising results utilizing the CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) family of DNA sequences used to edit genes within organisms. The Nobel Prize winning technology platform allows for a wide variety of applications, including the development of plant biotechnology products.
As Fresh Del Monte and QUT continue their partnership in the search for solutions to this ongoing category issue, AndNowUKnow will continue to report on the latest developments.