In the area of single and leaf lettuce, a lot has happened in recent years. There were the Salanova varieties and the mini Romanas that have quickly found their way to European traders. At the moment, another new lettuce variety has appeared, which is establishing itself at a rapid pace. It is the so-called 'Chicarita'. This cultivar from the Rijk Zwaan catalog visually looks similar to the Little Gem, but in a purely aromatic sense it tastes like an iceberg lettuce. In Switzerland, there is already great potential for the development of this innovative product, says Christoph Keller, Sales Manager of the Zurich-based Reust AG.
Sales Manager Christoph Keller of Reust AG recently added the
Chicarita to their product range.
In the assortment until November
According to the product catalog, the Chicarita is best suited to complement the assortment in the supermarket, placed next to classic lettuces. In addition to this, the lettuce can be marketed both as a single product or in processed form, or as an ingredient in a mixed salad. As a supplier of gastronomers, Reust Gastro AG is constantly on the lookout for something new. As a result, it has found the modern ways of cultivating their own lettuce. "We have been purchasing the lettuce heads from a regional producer, Gamper Gemüse AG, since last week. In consultation with our provider or depending on availability, we will continue to produce the product for about 3 to 4 weeks,'' says Keller.
The advantages of the Chicarita within gastronomy are numerous, says Keller. ''This variety is very robust and has a good shelf life, without sacrificing any of its quality. As a result, I see great potential in the use of Chicarita as a component, for example, of sandwiches. It is also a good alternative to mini lettuce, without a bitter taste, but still crisp. I can see the product work for simple restaurants and canteens, but less so for top restaurants, since currently micro-lettuces are trendy there,'' concludes Kelle.
In Switzerland, Gamper Gemüsekulturen AG is currently one of the few providers of Chicarita. This year the lettuces were harvested for the first time. Elsewhere, like in southern Europe, the Chicarita is not yet grown on a large scale.
Innovative family business
More than 60 years ago, Rudolf Reust and his wife Renate founded a company for vegetable and fruit wholesalers in Zurich. Today the business is run by the second generation; brothers Fredi and Ruedi Reust. Over the years, the corporation has specialized primarily in supplying hotels, catering service providers, retirement and care centers and restaurants, and regularly expands its product range with new innovative fresh produce, if possible from regional growers.
The Reust Gastro AG company operates via a quality assurance system according to the ISO 9001: 2015 (BUREAU VERITAS) standard and was awarded the silver medal in a sustainability audit, by EcoVadis in 2016.