Vegetable breeding company Rijk Zwaan is focusing on the theme of ‘Innovating for sustainability’ at Fruit Logistica 2019 and, in line with this goal, is introducing a large number of new Knox lettuce varieties at the event.
Knox varieties enable vegetable processors, food service companies and retailers to offer their customers salads with a longer shelf life all year round.
Premium courgettes launched under the Longvita label also have a longer shelf life, thus helping to reduce food waste, the group noted.
Extending shelf life offers many advantages throughout the chain: it gives producers and retailers more flexibility and less waste, while consumers benefit from vegetables that stay fresh for longer – a key objective in Rijk Zwaan’s breeding programmes.
The Knox trait is a prime example of the company’s efforts in support of more sustainable production and consumption. The trait delays pinking after cutting, which extends the shelf life of fresh-cut lettuce by at least two days.
Rijk Zwaan won the Fruit Logistica Innovation Award for this achievement in 2017, and the breeding company has been continuously developing Knox ever since, according to Bauke van Lenteren, convenience specialist at the company.
“The number of varieties with the Knox trait has grown exponentially, with our range now comprising 14 commercial varieties and 26 almost-commercial ones," she outlined. "As a result, we offer the convenience market a complete assortment of Knox lettuce varieties all year round. These innovations will be on display at Fruit Logistica.”
The Knox trait is also available in a wide choice of cos lettuce (also known as Romaine lettuce), which is one of the main ingredients in a Caesar salad.
“The Caesar is the best-known salad in the world, with its popularity stretching from the USA and UK to Australia and Japan," van Lenteren continued. "Knox cos helps a salad to stay fresher for longer and minimises food waste.”
Rijk Zwaan has also introduced several new iceberg lettuce varieties with Knox. “Our chain partners are delighted, because iceberg is the world’s number-one lettuce in terms of volume and is widely used in the out-of-home market. In addition to having an extended shelf life, Knox lettuce can also be harvested mechanically which contributes to a more flexible and efficient production process.”
Besides cos and iceberg, the company has commercially launched other lettuce types with new colours, shapes, textures and flavours, which means customers can now create several Knox-only lettuce blends, according to Van Lenteren: “Now, bagged lettuce stays looking fresh even after opening, which gives consumers more time to eat it.”
The same holds true for Longvita, Rijk Zwaan’s label for premium courgettes, according to Mathilde Tournebize, marketing specialist at Rijk Zwaan.
“We’re very pleased to be able to present our extremely promising Longvita varieties, including Calagreen RZ F1," said Tournebize. "Consumer research has shown that people prefer not to buy courgettes if the quality is poor. The Longvita label sets a new standard in terms of shelf life.
"These varieties retain their freshness and shine for longer after harvesting," she added. "This not only reduces the number of suboptimal products being wasted, but can also stimulate overall sales of this tasty vegetable.”