A Belgian pointed pepper grower has found a solution for its crooked, misshaped products. Those Class 2 pointed peppers were being thrown away, but now, there is a solution: jam. That is according to researcher Bart van Droogenbroeck from the Flanders Agricultural, FIsheries, and Food Stuffs Research Institute (ILVO) at Greenport West-Holland.
ILVO has been trying to add value to the agro-food chain's residual flows for ten years already. Just before that, the Interreg project Food From Food was also started. This study into the possibilities of residual sweet peppers, therefore, fitted in well with this project.
What did you look at?
"Class 2 pointed peppers have the same quality and flavor as Class 1 bell peppers. It's just their shape that makes them unsuitable for the fresh market. You can, however, use them to make jam, for example. To this end, we worked with a one-person regional company: Zoete Potjes. It also makes jam from other local products, and, as it turns out, you can make jam from pointed peppers. However, it's not so easy to scale up," says Bart.
What does that mean?
"Upsizing is difficult. It all has to do with pointed peppers' availability: they're not cultivated year-round, and the volume is actually too small. That makes it hard to find a company that can produce pointed peppers jam on a larger scale. That's where a possible business possibility runs aground, which is a shame as, partly due to the Covid crisis, there's an increasing demand for local products."
What is the solution?
"We only looked into the technical feasibility. A new economic model in which logistics are optimized holds promise for the future, and you must also be able to draw further on expertise for processing on a paid basis. At present, these kinds of products aren't easily commercially viable. Moreover, people need to be educated too. They must realize that local products aren't for sale the entire year, and processors - despite the scale problem - must be sure that it's an interesting product. That all takes time," Bart concludes.