For breeding companies, it is of course all about developing and improving varieties. New varieties are introduced every year. In the case of lettuce varieties with new resistance, varieties specifically for lettuce cultivation on water, vertical farming or under LED lighting. Nevertheless, attention is increasingly shifting to the rest of the chain, to the consumer. This year, BASF Vegetable Seeds is taking a different approach paying extra attention to experience.
In and around the demo greenhouse and field in 's-Gravenzande, it was mainly for tasting and there was an opportunity to see how the product looks on the shelf.
Above: demo greenhouse in 's-Gravenzande, Below: demo field
It's a development that could already be seen at the beginning of this year in Berlin at Fruit Logistica, where the stand was transformed into a real kitchen. That is the place where people come together to eat, taste and experience. The chain was encouraged to jointly develop new vegetable concepts for consumers. From a smoothie for breakfast to a spicy cucumber snack for the evening. The same can also be done with lettuce.
Carin Stroeken and Eric Kiers (BASF Vegetables Seeds) in front of the stand at Fruit Logistica 2019
Salad, boring? Not according to BASF Vegetable Seeds. "Lettuce comes in all sorts of colours, flavours, shapes and with different textures," the product specialists know like no other. But does the consumer know that as well? Not always, so there is a clear task for the breeding company to change that together with among other things, food service, retail and hospitality.
Salad bar with the motto 'make your own salad'. Nunhem's lettuce varieties are grown on water. Visitors could choose and pick their own fresh salad leaves for lunch.
Various concepts were introduced in the form of four groups -
Taste, Technology, Chef's Lettuce and Convenience
The various options for lettuce are discussed here. Last week's was "great for interaction to hear experiences from the chain, just like it was last year. The various concepts are based on consumer studies and contains various (new) varieties that fits here perfectly."
Taste, texture and sometimes even shape and colour. Many different combinations and variations can be made, which cooks or consumers can vary considerably to give a dish or salad that little something extra.
Lettuce can be in a salad, but is also typically a product for a sandwich or hamburger. Specially for this purpose varieties have been developed, both for growing on water and in open ground. Varieties with uniform leaves that are easy to peel off the head and has a good texture.
Uniformity is pleasant for the user, but also when harvesting or for mowing where automation makes it easier if varieties are developed in such a way that the leaves are nicely straight up with a uniform blade length. Closer planting is something that the breeding company is experimenting with. "There is increasing interest from the processing industry in so-called high density cultivation," said Jochim Reybrouck at the time. Not only in the greenhouse with lettuce on water, but also outdoors in the open ground.
Back to the consumer
Less well known is how easy it can be to make a wrap from a lettuce leaf. The Lettuce Wrap concept is in line with the fitness and health trend, where consumers want to eat less carbohydrates. "With an extra strong leaf, some fillings fit nicely in the salad wrap but without the carbohydrates of a cereal wrap."
Photo top: The Nunhems variety Crispol has a strong leaf with a good bulging for a filling of choice.
Another trend, which has been going on for a while, is the convenience trend. Smaller families, busy schedules, fast, fast, fast... "Triosla offers a sustainable solution with regard to food waste and gives limitless inspiration for your new recipes."
In addition, BASF Vegetable Seeds presented Colour Quadra gem: 2 green and 2 red little gems in a reusable packaging for endless mixing. “It brings colour variation and lasts for several days.
"Consumers no longer have to buy loose red and green heads.”
For more information:
BASF Vegetable Seeds