From Israel’s Negev to the Rest of the World
|Genesis Seeds penetrates the American and European markets|
|November 15, 2021|
We often recognize a leading brand name, but usually lack information about the company it represents. In our previous article we heard from Dr. Isaac Nir, founder of Genesis Seeds and inventor of the well-known brand name, “Basil Prospera®,” about the company’s formation and their decision to go Organic back then, sometime in the 90s.
Another decision made early on by Nir and his partners, was to focus on export rather than the local market. We met with Nir to hear about the factors that led him to these decisions, which continue to shape the company’s current activity.
Nir tells us that during the course of his professional marketing work in the U.S. on the subject of plant propagation and horticulture, he made contacts with growers, distributors and marketers across the continent. He was encouraged by two colleagues: the first was Carl Pearlstein, who owned the West Coast “Nurserymen’s Exchange”, where Nir had interned for a year in decorative plants and pot horticulture; the second was Mr. Emanuel Shemin from Connecticut, who owned the Shemin Nurseries Distributors that supplied everything needed in the decorative plants sector at their “One Stop Operation” Center.
Nir’s second active market was in Holland, where he made contacts with growers who supplied the Dutch Auction’s Exchanges, and through them he got to know the European and American marketing systems.
In Israel at the time, the market for open-pollinated (OP) flower, herb and vegetable varieties was very limited, as it was primarily a professional hybrid seeds market. On the local scene, highly developed
companies were already competing, so the marketing niche for Genesis Seeds — as a new company — was quite narrow.
As a new company that opted to become an organic seeds producer, says Nir, Genesis Seeds didn’t get support from Israel’s agricultural establishment: the Volcani Institute, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Faculty of Agriculture at Rehovot. On the other hand, in the U.S. Genesis Seeds found a broad market, seeking quality producers with a large assortment of gardening OP seeds. Since the company was fortunate to have relatively good crop yields, its organic seed prices competed successfully with conventional seeds, thus enabling another market alternative.
For these reasons, Genesis Seeds’ initial markets were in the U.S., Western Europe (90%) and Israel.
The first three business contacts were created thanks to three main factors:
Familiarity with the seeds market and the main distributors of gardening seeds. At that point all Genesis Seeds had to offer was the potential for producing their seeds in Israel.
Quality: The conclusion was that Genesis Seeds, as a bigger or smaller seed producer, is committed to meet all seed production challenges. With that in mind, Shai (Nir’s son) was sent to Holland and Germany to specialize in seed cleaning and quality control. When he returned to Israel, the machinery for extraction and cleaning seeds arrived from Holland together with a trainer, who didn’t let up until he was certain that Shai was expert at operating the seed machine.
Meetings: Attending all annual meetings of flower, vegetable and herb seed companies like: ASTA, AAS, NGB, in the U.S., ESA and FLORASELECT in Europe and ISF worldwide, which enabled the Genesis staff to gradually become acquainted with the seed business.
Initially, they became acquainted with about 10 companies that were prepared to send Genesis Seeds their stock seeds for production in Israel. Prices were very low, but at this early stage it was important for Genesis Seeds to learn how to create quality seeds, and to gradually gain the clients’ confidence. It was obvious that without quality seeds, the company didn’t stand a chance to survive in this sector.
Once the production process had moved over completely to Ashalim (the current plant location in Israel’s Negev) in August 1996, the company had already met the customers’ requirements. From the very beginning, Genesis Seeds enjoyed the complete trust of Mike Fina from Gloeckner Company (a major U.S. distributor of ornamental seeds) who encouraged us to produce a large assortment of his OP seeds. The company’s staff learned to respond quickly to each request. That’s how Genesis Seeds established its reputation as a legitimate professional member of the international seed business.
Genesis Seeds’ main sales areas are the U.S., Western Europe and Israel, but over the years, customers have also been added from the Middle East, Australia, South Africa and western Africa. The sales area and customer composition was determined by our varieties.
Basil and other herbs have turned Genesis into the sole supplier in this area, and in parallel the increased consumption of hybrid organic varieties of sunflowers, artichokes, squash, melons, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants has created a new supply for professional organic and conventional growers.
Genesis Seeds is proud that in addition to its veteran customers, every year new customers join.
At first, Nir notes, most communication with the company’s customers was based on telephone calls and exchange of documents via fax, visits with customers or socializing at growers’ meetings. Over the years, much friendship has been created with distributors and seed companies.
The seed market, at the top of the agricultural pyramid, is first and foremost based on product quality and its outcomes, and then on production capacity and a fair price. If the supply chain is preserved, the tie between producer and distributor becomes almost like family. In any event, Genesis Seeds staff always aspire to reach 100% satisfaction.
What about the future? We can assume that the largest producers will erect various technical roadblocks to prevent competition by smaller companies, but Genesis Seeds is determined and believes in its “three central aspects” approach:
Organic Seeds: Genesis Seeds is a company focused on development of unique Organic varieties, highly reputed in the seeds market;
Research capability: The Company focuses on development of unique varieties backed by research, such as Basil, Cucumbers and others that will comprise its economic basis.
Flexibility: The Company’s size enables a speedy decision process and ability to respond, relative to possible changes in demand and seed market structure.
All of these, Nir emphasizes, helped and will continue to help in the future to develop the Company and establish its success as a leader in the seed production area, in Israel and abroad.