Butternut Conference in Murcia (Spain)

Last week in Murcia (Spain) Sakata hosted their first Butternut Conference with the objective to share with the attendees both market and technical knowledge about this product which has seen tremendous growth in recent years.

Sakata, a company dedicated to breeding and developing varieties fit for today’s markets finds it important to bring global markets together to increase awareness, last year the company held a highly successful conference on Broccoli in Poland. This year Sakata has focused on Butternut squash, because the company has seen exponential growth in North American and European markets owing to their varieties. This event, which was attended by 100 people, had delegates from many different countries including Portugal, France, United Kingdom, Italy, South Africa, Egypt or Greece, and of course Spain, giving it a global focus.

In the first part of the conference the guests visited different commercial crops of Butternut production, located in Murcia’s region. In these visits Joaquin Navarro, Curcubits product promoter of Sakata Seed Iberica, and Christian Thromas, product manager EMEA of Sakata Vegetables Europe, gave technical data about the crop, tips of irrigation, prevention of pests and other agronomic solutions.

After then field visit Sakata displayed fruits of their varieties of Butternut squash, such as Ariel, Pluto, Atlas and Veenas. These varieties have been prominent in the market since 2008 thanks to their productivity, high fruit quality and ability in storage. Sakata also took the opportunity at this time to show delegates new lines from the breeding program and discuss different market requirements that these varieties are suited.

After lunch, in the second part of this conference, four presentations were made moderated by the UK journalist Tommy Leighton. André de Villiers, Cucurbits Specialist of Sakata Seed South Africa, explained to the public the production of Butternut squash in South Africa, where it’s producing 115000 tons of squash per year. Andres covered the importance of the uniformity of fruit, fertilization, the high performance of the varieties of Sakata and the adaptability of these. Christian Thromas then went through Sakata’s butternut breeding program giving delegates an insight into our targets, breeding team and the future of butternuts. This was then followed up with a presentation on global market trends by Sergio Osete, Sakata’s commercial manager. Development chef Sergio Perez then held a cooking demonstration to show delegates the many uses of butternut from simple soups right through to more advanced dishes such as butternut gnocchi. Whilst Sergio demonstrated these dishes Javier Barnabeau, Managing Director of Sakata Iberica talked delegates through the nutritional values of butternut squash. Javier stressed that it's a real vegetable of beauty due to its high content in potassium, beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) and vitamin C responsible for the conditioning of the skin and hair.

The event was then concluded with Tommy Leighton chairing a round robin discussion with the afternoons speakers and the delegates, ensuring any questions from the audience were answered and the event drawn to a summarised close.

Sakata’s first Butternut Conference gave a global overview of the product to all parts of the supply chain from covering technical points for growers and importers right through to marketing and end usage techniques for category managers and multiple retailers.



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