Rijk Zwaan says it
developed the snack-sized lettuce ‘especially for warm dishes: the lettuce
keeps its firm and crunchy bite. The leaf has a unique spoon shape and is tasty
and sweet. The permanent crunchy texture, good taste and distinctive leaf shape
offer new solutions and possibilities in the modern kitchen. An additional
advantage of Snack Lettuce is the reduction of plastic when the leaf is used as
an edible spoon.’
During the event the
hashtag #eatthespoon was used on social media to generate interest in the
concept. The breeder also used the event to demonstrate other new concepts
including MyCubies (snack cucumbers which were presented in a new package with
three in a bag), Cabbisi (a new mini pointed cabbage for use in salads) and
Elfy. Elfy is a crunchy mini celery, which can be eaten as snack because of its
Healthy snacking is becoming increasingly popular around the world and Rijk Zwaan believes that it can offer a number of innovative options to the snack vegetable market.
Among the lines that the company will be highlighting at this year’s Asia Fruit Logistica event in September are snack tomatoes in a variety of colours, Silky Pink tomatoes and its One-bite cucumber.
As well as red, orange and yellow tomatoes in different sizes, it is also offering pear-shaped snack tomatoes, light-green or bicolour mini cucumbers and mini bell peppers in a variety of colours. According to the company, at just 5 centimetres long, its One-bite mini cucumber is ‘truly unique.’
The Silky Pink cocktail tomato is the latest in the company’s range, with a cherry and beefsteak version promised in the future. In a press release, Rijk Zwaan added, “The snack vegetable offering also includes robust yet appealing packaging concepts that are ideal for online retail in Asia.
“Guided by [our]motto of ‘Sharing a healthy future’, Rijk Zwaan is committed to working together to further develop the market for fresh vegetables.”
Photo Caption: Rijk Zwaan believes that the snack vegetable market is set to grow
Lettuce growers in the UK and further afield have warned of shortages as the hot weather and lack of rain continue for the foreseeable future.
With this summer already being claimed as the hottest since 1976, wholesale prices for lettuce and some brassicas have spiked, while home-grown and imported fruit such as strawberries and melons are also attracting high prices.
“Cabbages and icebergs are suffering because they’re getting cooked in the field, prices are tremendously high. The price of lettuce has gone from £4.80 per box to £9.60,” Chris Hutchinson, owner of Arthur Hutchinson Ltd at New Spitalfields Market.
Spokesman for the British Leafy Salad Growers Association, Dieter Lloyd, said that record sales of 18 million heads of lettuce (a 40 per cent increase on the previous year) together with hot conditions which were preventing growth could lead to a shortage of the crop.
“While it is great news that leafy salad sales are up around 40 per cent across all retailers, that’s just half the story. The record temperatures have stopped the UK lettuce crop growing. When the mercury hits 30 degrees Celsius lettuces can’t grow,” he said. In all of the major growing areas, from Cupar in Fife, through Preston, Lancs, to Ely in East Anglia and Chichester, Sussex, the hot weather has affected all our growers and we may be seeing some gaps on retailers’ shelves in the next two weeks as the heat wave continues.”
Bristol-based start up company LettUs Grow, which attracted funding via Crowfunder, has completed the installation of its ‘aeroponic hardware’ at Grow Bristol.
According to the company, ‘the baton has now been passed to the “growing team” of biologists and environmental scientists to demonstrate how rapidly this hardware can grow tasty leafy greens, strawberries, and much more, over the new year.’
In trials LettUs grow says that it has produced pea shoots in half the time of comparable aquaponic systems. The company adds that its strong R&D focused partnership with Grow Bristol, has resulted in the broad deployment of both its aeroponic hardware and farm management software; both of which is focused on improving productivity and crop quality, whilst making the indoor farm simpler to operate.
Alongside growing plants, the management team has also been focused on growing the business, including completion of the three-month Bethnal Green Ventures program of advice and investment with a demo-day on 29 November.
Photo Caption: So far the use of the LettUs Grow equipment has focused on the production of microgreens
Rijk Zwaan has been awarded with the Fruit Logistica Award for its Knox™ innovation which is a natural trait which delays discolouration.
Over 70,000 visitors to the trade fair were invited to vote for their favourite out of ten nominees. “This award is the icing on the cake following more than ten years of intensive breeding work. We wholeheartedly thank the visitors for their votes and our chain partners for their faith in Knox,” comments Bauke van Lenteren, Marketing Specialist Leafies.
Knox was first introduced in September 2015 after more than a decade of breeding work. Benefits for the whole supply chain include less waste during processing and sale. The trait can also encourage consumers to purchase fresh-cut lettuce more often because it now has a longer shelf life.
“Thanks to everyone who voted for us and a special thank-you to our team, of course. And last but not least, I’d like to thank all our partners in the value-added chain – they’ve helped us by explaining the benefits of our development,” added Jan Doldersum, Manager Marketing and Business Development at Rijk Zwaan Distribution B.V.
The company says that the roll-out of Knox will continue throughout 2017. Processing companies in the UK, Switzerland, Poland, Australia and the USA are already working with Knox lettuce varieties, and growers, vegetable processing companies and retailers in other countries are in the midst of trials.
Photo Caption: The Rijk Zwaan team celebrate their win at Fruit Logistica.
On Thursday 21 July the UK Government issued an update on the ongoing investigation into an outbreak of E. coli O157 which has left two people dead and has been linked to prepared salads.
Public Health England (PHE) confirmed that, as of Thursday, 160 cases of this strain of E. coli had been identified with 153 cases in England, 6 in Wales and 1 in Scotland. Dr Isabel Oliver, director of PHE’s field epidemiology service, said, “We are pleased to see a very significant reduction in the number of cases with 9 reported over the past week. This could indicate that we are over the worst of this outbreak, with those affected reporting the last onset of symptoms on 5 July.”
PHE investigations have shown that several of the affected individuals ate mixed salad leaves including rocket leaves prior to becoming unwell. “The source of the outbreak remains unconfirmed and under investigation; we are not ruling out other food items,” stressed Dr Oliver. “It’s important to be aware that no individual wholesaler, supplier, retailer, or restaurant has been confirmed as the source and currently the Food Standard Agency’s investigations focus on the distribution of mixed salad leaves to wholesale and not supermarkets.”
She added, “All food sample results to date have been negative for E.coli O157, but it’s important to be aware that where food has been contaminated with E.coli O157, it is not always possible to identify the bacteria on food testing. A small number of wholesalers continue to be advised to cease adding some non-UK salad leaves to their mixed salad products pending further investigations.”
Tesco says that a new initiative to remove a food packing stage in the journey from farm to fork will mean that customers will benefit from salads and citrus fruit that will stay fresh for up to two extra days.
The foods covered by the initiative include imported lettuce; tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli and celery. As part of its ongoing programme to tackle food waste Tesco looked at its supply chain to identify ways of working directly with producers to speed up the process by which freshly picked produce arrives in store. It found that as a result of advancements in packing and storage it was now possible to ship produce directly from European suppliers to Tesco stores, cutting the amount of time spent in transit which means getting produce to customers faster, and therefore fresher.
Tesco Group Food Commercial Director Matt Simister said, “For millions of our customers this move will mean having up to an extra two days in which to enjoy some of the most popular fruit and vegetables. The extra days of freshness will particularly benefit customers who are pressed for time and will mean they are less likely to throw away food.”
Growing media company GRODAN has joined the Association for Vertical Farming, saying that the move will help it to play a part in safeguarding the strategic future of vertical farming and the development of this new high-tech horticultural sector.
“We should use the long established strengths of high-tech horticulture and apply them via customer driven innovation,” said Stuart Lambie, Sustainability Manager at GRODAN. “As the world faces some major challenges in the upcoming decades, sustainable food production is becoming more and more important. GRODAN wants to help tackle Global Challenges by developing high-tech solutions based on the principle of doing more with less, while always taking care for the wellbeing of people and environment.
“We believe that GRODAN can become a great partner for the Association for Vertical Farming in this quest. We believe that GRODAN can make a difference and contribute to our joint Global Challenges, helping food producers to save water and other resources whilst supplying increasing quantities of healthy, fresh produce to an increasingly urbanised global population.”
The new sector of controlled environment agriculture is still developing and GRODAN says it will work closely with the other members of the Association to perfect the technology that will work in particular situations. “Working with the Association for Vertical Farming, and its partners, to optimize this ground-breaking technology is going to be an exciting textbook lesson in collaboration and productivity,” continues Stuart. “We see a role in bringing more than 45 years of knowledge and experience in soilless cultivation at GRODAN together with other forces in the field of vertical farming from research. We look forward to deepening our partnership over years to come.”
The British Leafy Salads Association (BLSA) says that planning is well underway for the forthcoming Leafy Salad Variety Trials which will be held at G’s Fresh, Barway Road, Barway, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 5TZ on Wednesday 1st July 2015.
Aimed at BLSA and HDC members, the day includes three interactive workshops in the morning, with Peter White of Soil Moisture Sense talking about soil moisture monitoring, Tim Lacey of Bayer discussing modes of action and the use of biologicals and Chris Marrow of Elsoms talking about seed treatment technologies.
In the afternoon delegates will have the opportunity to visit over 70 variety plots demonstrated by representatives from key seed houses and will have the opportunity to ask them questions. There will also be a demonstration from Dr Robert Simmons of Cranfield University looking at soil structure and the ARTIS training team will be running a course taster quiz.
A new study published in the latest issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture suggests that applying beneficial microorganisms at transplanting can promote rapid transplant establishment (starter effect) for achieving early and high yields.
Scientists treated a number of vegetable crops, including lettuce, pepper, tomato and courgette, with the microorganisms Glomus intraradices BEG72 and Trichoderma atroviride MUCL 45632. Under greenhouse conditions dry weight was significantly increased when plants were supplied with both beneficial microorganisms in comparison with the control. The increase in root and shoot weight was associated with an increased level of nutrient uptake (including P, Mg, Fe, Zn and B). Under open field conditions, lettuce shoot and root dry weights also increased following biostimulant microorganism application in field conditions, while the total yield of courgettes also increased. The authors say that the application of a biostimulant tablet containing both organisms can promote transplant establishment and vegetable crop productivity in a sustainable way.