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Syngenta reinvents the green pepper with Overgreen

For generations, parents have been trying to get children to eat their vegetables – usually with mixed results. But a new pepper from Syngenta may just have the taste that kids will enjoy – with the nutrients that will make parents happy. Two decades in the making, the Overgreen pepper is a market-changing variety.

“My vision for Overgreen peppers is to change the green pepper market – from what people think green peppers should look like right down to how they eat them,” said Rachel Broadbent, product lead for peppers and tomatoes at Syngenta, North America.

Overgreen peppers are the product of a breeding program using traditional techniques. This tedious process has involved selecting peppers with desired traits, breeding them, selecting offspring with the desired traits and repeating these steps until a stable plant emerges. Grower cooperators are essential to this process. J&J Family of Farms has fostered this process alongside Syngenta and is currently expanding the retail market of Overgreen peppers.

Growers can expect several advantages with Overgreen peppers. Once established in the field, the plants produce heavy foliage cover, which protects the fruit from sunburn. Overgreen peppers also stay greener longer, meaning growers have a longer window for harvesting the crop.

“The reason Overgreen peppers stay greener longer than others is that every cell in them has twice the chlorophyll as a normal pepper, and the chlorophyll molecules are twice as big,” said Kevin Cook, global lead of open-field pepper research and development for Syngenta.

But perhaps the biggest advantage of Overgreen peppers is their appeal to health-conscious consumers, who are demanding more nutrient-dense vegetables in their diets. Taste panel results showed that participants describe their flavor as milder and without the sometimes sour aftertaste of a standard bell pepper. Overgreen peppers also contain nearly two times more lutein – a chemical important for eye health – and vitamin A than other bell peppers.

“I’ve been a little insistent in telling people who say they don’t like raw green peppers to try Overgreens,” said Broadbent. “But nine out of 10 times, they end up really enjoying them. That’s how I got my six-year-old daughter to try the peppers, and now she loves them.”

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