For Wim Grootscholten, manager of the Crop Team Lettuce at Rijk Zwaan, Knox – the groundbreaking innovation that delays pinking in lettuce – was a crucial breakthrough.
The team at Rijk Zwaan is now hard at work developing a portfolio of lettuce varieties with this trait to enable year-round supply.
“The introduction of the first varieties with Knox in September 2015 was a fantastic moment for our Crop Team Lettuce," said Grootscholten. "We’ve solved a major problem within the chain: pinking of fresh cut lettuce. This is a real breakthrough for convenience companies. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime innovation.”
Over the past year, the team has been involved in intense cooperation with growers and processing companies to ensure that they can integrate Knox into their own business models, he continued.
"That first phase was focused on enabling all chain partners to get to know the lettuce varieties with the Knox trait better," noted Grootscholten. "How do the varieties grow out in the field? What effect does Knox have on blending and bagging fresh cut lettuce? What are the consumer benefits? Do foodservice companies receive fewer complaints if they use Knox lettuce in their hamburgers? These are all questions that we’ve been trying to answer by working together with our partners. We share our knowledge and suggest ideas. In turn, we use their input in our further development work. Good teamwork is essential.
“We now offer varieties with the Knox trait in various types of lettuce, including cos, batavia, iceberg lettuce, butterhead, Salanova Crispy and Salanova butterhead. Our breeders are continuously working to develop new varieties. Our aim is to create a year-round portfolio of lettuce varieties including the Knox trait with all resistances, in each type and for every climate zone.”