Rijk Zwaan is revolutionising the segment with concepts such as Knox Core, Crunchy Lettuce and Sandwich Lettuce Range
Once again, the International Field Days 2018 proved Rijk Zwaan’s leadership in the lettuce segment. The company holds around 40% of the market share, a position reached using innovation and important investments to develop top quality varieties, with which it manages to create trends, getting ahead of the demands by producers and consumers, such as mechanisation (they have lettuces for high density crops). And do you remember the brownish colour of the stalk at the bottom of the lettuce? Soon this will be just that, a memory. Because as José Luis Saiz, Crop Coordinator Lettuce at Rijk Zwaan in EMEA advances, this year the company has launched the Knox Core property that prevents oxidation in the cutting area, giving a fresher appearance to the produce. At present, they have applied it to different categories (iceberg, oak leaf, Batavia and Crunchy), and over the next few years it will be added to the remainder. “It will become a trend,” Saiz guarantees.
At the CED in La Palma, over 500 people could see the many options offered by the new varieties from the Crunchy Lettuce range, with greater quality and a sweeter flavour, amongst which the Snack® variety stands out. “The leaves are easy to remove and it stands heat very well, therefore it can be used as a base for food, instead of bread.” It is already available in supermarkets and an eye-catching packaging has been chosen to help consumers to know how to make the most of its advantages.
Another of the main new developments involves the Mini Cos range, which extends the options of the mini romaine lettuces including new varieties with improved colour and size (14-18 cm and around 150 grams) that exceed those already on the market. “It is a segment that is experiencing rapid growth, particularly for two-piece packs.”
But if there is a line that draws the attention it has to be the Sandwich Lettuce Range. A concept that seeks to offer “a lettuce for each type of bread” (baguette, pita, wraps…), and that is especially attractive for the hotel, restaurant and catering sector. An example of this is the new Crystal type, with a thicker, crunchier and juicier texture, ideal for hamburgers, for example and agronomically, it works particularly well as hydroponic cultivation.
Within the company’s extensive portfolio, the Knox™ Lettuce concept is being extended to new varieties and possibilities that allow lettuces with this property to be available throughout the entire year, in the same way as Salanova, along with more varieties of each type and the improvement in disease resistances and agronomic characteristics to be able to grow them all year round. Additionally, Rijk Zwaan has new developments with maximum resistance to Bremia (downy mildew).
In winter vegetables, the innovation lies in diversity: in colours, shapes and sizes. All of this has boosted consumption in this segment, according to José Antonio Hernández, Crop Specialist. Looking to the near future, the keys lie in mini sizes and florets. Rijk Zwaan gives another twist to all this and adds flavour.
“We have sweet cabbages in different sizes and weights for the European markets.” The Teama RZ cabbage is worth a special mention, which has been on the market for the past two years and has improved the agronomical handling conditions due to its robustness and strong disease resistance.
There are also new developments in the kohlrabi range, with the addition of a white variety.
In cauliflowers, the palette is extensive and over the next few years we will see important new developments in colour. At present, there are options in green (Vitaverde RZ), white (Tramont RZ, on the market next year, it is the first winter variety for 120 day cycles) and romanesco (Puntoverde RZ).
In broccoli, the two new commercial developments are Robredo RZ (spring harvesting) and 27-735 RZ (the important winter new development, with improved post-harvest conservation compared to the market standards).
The journey ends with Elfy, a mini sweet celery, virtually string-free and a new line of rocket under the Rocketeerz brand name with diversification in shape (they have the first round-leafed rocket), flavour (less bitter) and they are working on the resistance to downy mildew.