CHICAGO Monsanto Co and Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc are formalizing a partnership to breed vegetables that are more attractive to consumers.
The five-year collaboration will focus on creating variations of broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and spinach, the companies said on Tuesday.
The results could include vegetables that are more colorful, tastier, less susceptible to bruising and have a longer shelf-life.
"If I buy broccoli on Saturday or Sunday and try to cook it on Wednesday, it'll get wilty," said Monsanto spokeswoman Riddhi Trivedi-St. Clair.
She also stressed that these new variants will not be genetically modified like the company's much larger corn seed and soybean products.
Also known for its herbicide business, Monsanto has been aggressively growing its vegetable business with recent moves such as the 2005 acquisition of Seminis, which gave Monsanto control over more than 30 percent of the North American vegetable seed market.
In 2008, Monsanto acquired Netherlands-based De Ruiter Seeds, whose focus is in greenhouse vegetable growers as opposed to the open-field expertise of Seminis.
Dole had been Monsanto's customer for decades before announcing the partnership on Tuesday, said Dole spokesman Marty Ordman.
Last year, Monsanto also entered into an agreement with Landec Corp's packaged food-maker Apio to develop broccoli and cauliflower products.
If new products are created under the collaboration, they could be sold by Dole in North America.
Monsanto shares closed Tuesday up 1.5 percent at $79.30 on the New York Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Ian Sherr, additional reporting by Jessica Wohl; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Tim Dobbyn)