There is a new strawberry variety called Inspire, which Greenery growers Rob van der Wouw of Jong Fruit and Jan van Meer grow in the Netherlands. We wondered what preceded the first harvest of these strawberries, and so, we asked.
"We were looking for a different, consistently well-performing strawberry variety. Via Klaas de Jager, an agronomist at The Greenery, we arrived at Inspire. In the spring of 2020, we cultivated the new strawberry for the first time on 1.6 hectares," says Rob van der Wouw. "Under Klaas' leadership, we exchange knowledge with other strawberry growers." Jan van Meer continues: "We began growing the Inspire variety in the winter of 2020, but before we started, I went to see Klaas's trials and Rob's plants."
New variety, new name
Klaas de Jager is in contact with various breeding companies, and every year, he is involved in the pre-selection of new varieties. That was no different for the Inspire strawberry. "These new varieties have a number, but they do not have a name yet. This unique strawberry variety's American breeder came up with the name Inspire themselves," says Klaas. "This variety positively stands out because of its consistently good flavor and firmness. Therefore, it is not only very suitable for the fresh market, the processing and baking industries can use it too. Because of its excellent shelf life, it can be sent to far-off destinations, like England or even Norway, and another advantage of the strawberry is the fact that it can be harvested by robot. On top of that, it has a high disease and pest tolerance."
From breeder to supermarket
It is not so simple to get a new strawberry variety onto supermarket shelves, says Rob van der Weele, Strawberry and Asparagus Product Manager at The Greenery. "On average, it takes six to seven years before consumers see the new product. In that process, I am the link between growers and traders. For instance, I am the person who approaches customers to gauge whether they are interested in a new product or not. The first reactions to the Inspire variety are positive, and our clients are definitely interested in selling the strawberry next year. The next step, marketing the new product, is something I assist with as well."
Highly presentable with a fresh experience
"A shiny and beautiful deep red color and a uniform, elongated shape characterize this new variety. Because of that, the strawberries will look good on shelves, and customers will have a fresher experience," says Renske Hartensveld, product marketeer at The Greenery. "The strawberries taste deliciously full and sweet, and people are loving the Inspire variety more than they do other varieties. On top of that, the strawberries are firm, which means that they can be packaged in both open and closed packages well," she concludes.