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Breeder to showcase melon and lettuce varieties at Asia Fruit Logistica

At Asia Fruit Logistica in Bangkok from 2-4 November, Rijk Zwaan is showcasing new varieties, such as the Salanova lettuce, and the Finura RZ and Sagami RZ melon varieties. 

Champ Fungi is expanding its processing activities in the lettuce segment. “We use the colourful Salanova® in our leaf mixes,” explains Robin Yau, Sales & Marketing Director (Champ Fungi Group) based in Singapore. Rijk Zwaan is showcasing this attractive lettuce at Asia Fruit Logistica in Bangkok from 2-4 November.

On the other hand, in Brunei, Superfish Growers is the leading melon producer. The company goes the extra mile to deliver the best fruits using advanced farming techniques, labour intensive care and premium seeds. Director Foo Gwen Tong: “Quality seeds of the Finura RZ and Sagami RZ melon varieties lead to healthy crops and better produce.”

Ready-to-eat salads
Champ Fungi was established in the early 2000s and started out producing mushrooms in Kuala Lumpur. “Since then, we have expanded throughout Southeast Asia and now have production and processing facilities in Malaysia and the Philippines,” comments Robin Yau Sales & Marketing Director (Champ Fungi Group) based in Singapore. “We not only run high-tech mushroom farms, but also hydroponic farms for baby-sized leafies. Our sales and distribution are located in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Hong Kong. Champ Fungi is selling the ready-to-eat salads and salad meal under the Live Well brand. We developed the first regional cool chains and we supply to regional retailers and foodservice companies.”

"Salanova lettuce meets market requirements"
The Salanova lettuce range plays an important role in the company’s portfolio, according to Yau: “We are seeing growth in the ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook markets. That’s why we are expanding our processing activities. We use both red and green Salanova oaks and crispies in our leaf mixes. We require fresh, crispy, pest-free, good-tasting lettuce. Salanova meets all these criteria, and also has the right size and minimal waste after processing,” he states.

Colour is crucial in a ready-to-eat salad
Apart from these characteristics, the available choice of colours is also essential, says Yau. “Colour is crucial to provide an attractive ready-to-eat salad. We are looking at so-called triple-red Salanova varieties. We believe that the ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook segment will further grow in Southeast Asia. To support this growth and achieve repeat buys, we need to develop colourful, healthy, safe and appealing salads.”

Intensive collaboration with Rijk Zwaan
Champ Fungi is working intensively with the Rijk Zwaan team in the region to achieve these goals. “Besides receiving sourcing support, we are also collaborating on product development. We are testing the varieties’ suitability for processing in this region. As we are facing more complex supply chains, we are also looking for Salanova varieties with an increased shelf life. Lastly, as labour is a major challenge at our suppliers, we hope that the Rijk Zwaan teams can lead the way in improving cultivation methods,” he continues.

Meeting demand in a sustainable way
Yau is optimistic about the market opportunities for salads in Asia. “The market for salads in Asia will gradually evolve in line with the preferences of the new generation of consumers. Demand for healthy, safe, easy-to-consume prepared salads is only just starting in Asia. We therefore need to work intensively together in the full chain – from breeder, grower and processor to distributor – to meet this demand in a sustainable way.”

Melon varieties
Superfish Growers is located in the Agro-Technology Park, right in the heart of Brunei Darussalam. It includes farms that are situated on 50 hectares with a staff of 100 growers, supervisors and management. Tong: “All our products are grown in high-tech greenhouses that were established in 2018. Varieties of muskmelon and Piel de Sapo melons were the first and are still the most important commercial products. Smaller products are long red chillies, cherry tomatoes and lettuce. Our main market is currently in Asia: Singapore, Malaysia and China. We’re hoping to reach the Middle Eastern market in the near future.”

One tree, one fruit
Premium quality in melon production is achieved by the ‘one tree one fruit’ method. By ultimately leaving only one fruit on each plant, nutrition can be concentrated inside a single fruit, creating an explosion of taste. Besides that, the farmers are trained to carry out daily monitoring. “Our fruits are meticulously looked after every day from 6 am to 6 pm for 90 days. Furthermore, we use high-technology farming techniques, such as the automated fertigation system,” Tong explains.

Offer customers new values
As part of this innovative approach, Superfish Growers is constantly testing other melon varieties and types. Tong: “We want to provide our customers with new value. Every new variety or product can be an innovation of the previous version.”

Two new Rijk Zwaan melon varieties were selected in this process. Sagami RZ is an Andes type with green skin, green flesh and a sweet, delicious taste. The Piel de Sapo Finura RZ – white flesh and good sugar content – is the other variety. “We’re happy with the consistency in the quality of seeds. The product quality is on a par with our standards in terms of growth and shelf life. Good quality seeds lead to healthy crops and better produce,” says Tong.

Creating a better future for agriculture
Besides the good quality, Superfish Growers appreciates Rijk Zwaan as a company. Tong: “Their standards in seed production and their focus on the social and ethical aspects were the main reasons we chose Rijk Zwaan. The company by far ticks all the boxes for us. Moreover, the values of both our companies are in line. We share the vision of supporting sustainable food supply and creating a better future for agriculture.”

Melon a fruit of choice for many families
Tong is optimistic about the melon market in Asia. “The demand for melons has grown significantly in the last few years. It has extended from the common watermelon and rock melons and now includes muskmelons and Piel de Sapo melons. In this growing market the melon has the potential to be a fruit of choice for many families in the near future. Having said that, of course, we need to constantly innovate in terms of both production and marketing.”

Join Rijk Zwaan at Asia Fruit Logistica 
To encourage retailers, traders and other chain partners in Asia to add more colour in the fresh produce category, Rijk Zwaan will showcase its colourful palette of bright, healthy and inspiring vegetables at Asia Fruit Logistica 2-4 November in Bangkok. Come and meet the company on stand F-17. 

For more information:
Rijk Zwaan
[email protected]      


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