Fruits and vegetable products account for more than a fourth of Bayer CropScience’s agricultural business and the multi-national corporations aims to double that area within the next decade.

Rudiger Scheitza, a member of Bayer CropScience’s executive committee, told more than 185 people from 25 countries recently that the acquisition of a California biological pesticide company, AgraQuest, is part of the plan to achieve that lofty goal.

Scheitza spoke at the Vegetable Future Form at Bayer CropScience’s world headquarters in Monheim, Germany. Western Farm Press attended.

Scheitza is responsible for Bayer’s strategy and business management.

The Bayer executive called AgraQuest, based in Davis, Calif., a “leader in innovative biological pest management solutions based on natural microorganisms with an excellent technology platform and promising platform.”

Bayer CropScience paid $425 million plus milestone payments for the company.

AgraQuest offers well-established “green products” available in more than 30 countries.

AgraQuest and biological produce development companies like it are generally associated with the organic farming market. However, Scheitza said Bayer does not believe organic farming is the model for the future.

Rather, he said the AgraQuest acquisition “strengthens” Bayer’s strategically important fruits and vegetable business by adding biologicals like Serenade, Sonota and Requiem to its existing line of highly selective “small molecule” product like Alion, Movento, Sivanto, Luna and Emesto.

Biological pesticides are finding favor in non-organic farming, according to Gary Tanimura, vice president of production for Tanimura and Antle, based in Salinas, Calif., who attended the forum. He says the newer generation of biologicals work well in conventional farming.

Growers use them to control low insect pest or disease populations without distributing beneficial insects and for resistance management program.

As world population grows, demand for food, especially fruits and vegetables, is skyrocketing. Economic growth in countries like China and India is growing the middle class, which drives demand for more calorie-rich diets, according to Rabobank’s Cyrille Filot, head of the food and agribusiness research branch of the bank, who spoke at the forum.