Opportunities for market intelligence to inform discussion on TPP refinements

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    CGIAR Initiative on Market Intelligence
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Jason Donovan, Agnes Gitonga, Dean Muungani, Peter Coaldrake, Mercy Mbugua, Matty Demont, Sika Gbegbelegbe, Pieter Rutsaert, Diego Naziri

Since the start of the CGIAR Initiative on Market Intelligence in 2022, some 250 target product profiles (TPPs) have been developed (www.glomip.cgiar.org). A TPP is a blueprint of the traits, including their measurements and thresholds, that a new seed product must contain to meet the requirements of farmers, processors, and consumers. The product described in the TPP represents the ideal product for a particular market segment—i.e., the product that, if available, would motivate farmers to seek out and acquire it. TPPs are designed with inputs from crop breeders, social scientists, and others. The TPP design effort, which started in the Excellence in Breeding (EiB) Platform and continues with the Initiative on Market Intelligence, represents the first time the design of seed-product blueprints has been systematically recorded and publicly available, thus providing a unique opportunity for increased involvement of researchers, seed companies, national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES), and others. Of key importance is the use of TPPs as the agreed-upon standard against which product design and advancement decisions are made.

The design of TPPs requires reliable intelligence on the requirements of farmers, processors, and consumers for seed. In some cases, TPP design teams have not had access to intelligence and thus designs have incorporated best assumptions on the requirements. A scan across the current TPPs reveals important opportunities for market intelligence to inform future TPP design. Currently, most plant breeding programs are focusing on traits concerned with primary production (e.g., yield and resistance to pests and disease). This raises the question of whether target yields, for small-scale farmers growing crops under optimal conditions for the market, are sufficiently high enough for farmers to notice or convince them to switch to newer products. Alternatively, where the crop is mainly for farmers primarily growing for subsistence, other traits may be prioritized over yield, suggesting that TPPs may focus on maintaining yield, rather than increasing it.

An important role for the Initiative on Market intelligence lies in generating evidence on the nature and relevance of consumer and processor requirements for TPP refinement. Efforts also generate evidence on future scenarios and external factors that could shape future needs for varieties, to identify future market segments and their associated TPPs. Table 1 presents examples of specific opportunities by crop and region for market intelligence to inform discussions on TPP refinement. In general, these opportunities revolve around:

  • Food processing: what are optimal parameters for grain, to include levels of starch, tannins and oil, and size and color
  • Yield requirements: yield requirements for farmers to notice the increase and incentivize them to experiment and switch to new products
  • Dual purpose: opportunities for dual-purpose seed products (e.g., food and fodder) to drive farmer uptake
  • Consumer traits: opportunities for new seed products to better respond to consumer-related traits, such as nutrition, good taste, and flour conversion ratios, especially in cases where yield gaps are high and varietal turnover rates are low

The two online information-sharing platforms of Genetic Innovations GloMIP (external facing) and the Breeding Portal (internal facing) provide access to the TPPs currently available. GloMIP allows researchers to upload market intelligence to market segments, enabling TPP design teams to have access to the latest market intelligence to help them prioritize traits in TPPs.

Table 1. Opportunities for market intelligence to inform TPP refinement

Segment   Subregion  Opportunity for market intelligence to inform TPP refinement  
Groundnuts   Eastern Africa, Tanzania  Groundnut market segments are defined by color and size (linked to maturity) of the groundnut. One question relates to the optimal oil content required according to end use. Currently, the five TPPs for groundnut in Eastern and Southern Africa region specify 50 percent oil content. However, in mature groundnut markets, processor requirements for oil content vary by end use: confectionary and snacking food processors require oil content below 50 percent, while peanut butter processors require roughly 50 percent, and oil processors require at least 50 percent. What is the growth trajectory of the groundnut industry in the subregion? When might processors begin to require specific oil context according to use? 
Wheat   Global   Market Intelligence is working with teams from the two wheat breeding centers to address the duplication in TPPs for wheat market segments. Currently, each market segment has two TPPs attached to it, one by each wheat breeding center. The pair of wheat TPPs can present notable differences in terms of requirements. An example is spring wheat in Eastern Africa:   for yield, one center set a yield target at 10 percent more than the check, while another set the target at 5 percent more than the check; for 1,000 kernel weight, one center set the target at >35 g, while the other set the target at >25 g. Market Intelligence will engage with both centers to facilitate a shared view of the requirements for the new single TPP for each segment.  
Sorghum   Eastern Africa, Tanzania  The two TPPs for sorghum contain 26–27 essential traits. There is a clear need to better understand requirements of farmers, processors, and consumers for sorghum to allow for more refined segmentation, which, in turn, will narrow the focus of the TPPs (i.e., TPPs with a feasible set of essential traits). Sorghum can be used in multiple ways: food, feed, and malting. Farmers also have specific requirements that vary by product type (hybrids) and maturity levels. 
 Chickpeas   Eastern Africa  In the initial TPPs for chickpea, cooking time was not considered an essential trait. In 2023, the product design team recognized this omission and included cooking time as an essential trait in revised TPPs. Questions for future possible TPP refinement are related to processor requirements (e.g., flour quality, size) and trader requirements (e.g., differences in specifications for local and export markets). 
Cowpea  Western Africa, Nigeria  Across all the current TPPs, cooking time is considered a nice-to-have trait. However, this needs to be reassessed against a range of future trends in urbanization, income growth, and the changing roles of women. Rising urbanization in Nigeria is likely to increase the demand for food that can be easily processed by working mothers, thus short cooking time could be an important future trait. 
Rice  South-eastern Asia, Southern Asia TPP discussions on rice have focused on the inclusion of several nutrition-related traits: e.g., high iron, high zinc, vitamin A, and low glycemic index. High iron and high zinc are already included as essential traits in four TPPs. The inclusion of these traits has the potential to address micronutrient deficiencies and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). However, little is known about the implications of adding these traits to rice TPPs. Do consumers require rice with enhanced nutritional benefits? Are they willing to pay for it? If consumers do not require nutritional-related traits, then should enhanced nutritional traits be added to all TPPs? 
Potatoes  Global   In 2023, market segmentation for potatoes was refined to recognize the specific requirements of processors (fries and crisps). The next step is to design specific TPPs for these two new segments. Recent research provides insights for this task. Tuber size should be elevated to an essential trait and thresholds for both tuber size and shape will have to be determined to better respond to the diverse need of french fries and crisps processors. Furthermore, the authors recommend adding number of eyes as a nice-to-have trait and increasing the threshold for dormancy period. 

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