Our seeds form the basis for healthy and appealing vegetables. The world population continues to grow and the demands on food are increasing. That’s why our crop specialists and marketing specialists are in close contact with the entire vegetable chain. We discuss market developments, consumer trends and demographic shifts to identify the right priorities for our breeding programs. This enables us to launch varieties that offer solutions to various societal challenges.
Taste and texture
At Rijk Zwaan, taste and texture play a prominent role in all of our breeding programmes. Furthermore, we offer varieties that really stand out in terms of flavour or mouthfeel. These can add breadth and depth to a standard range. For instance, we have developed a compact version of the tasty ‘piel de sapo’ melon in response to northern European consumers’ preferences for smaller melons. Another example is our aubergine that absorbs less fat, making it particularly suitable for frying.
Efficiency and shelf life
As a breeding company, fine-tuning is in our DNA. For example, we will work to develop a melon with a slightly smaller seed cavity so that it generates a higher profit for processing companies. Or we will fine-tune a tomato plant for slightly less fullness to reduce the pruning work for growers. Technological advancements can influence certain breeding objectives. We are working on spinach with uniform growth, for instance, to facilitate mechanical harvesting.
Quality and consistency
First and foremost consumers buy vegetables based on their visual appearance, so clear and attractive presentation is essential. We set ourselves apart in this respect thanks to our high general standards of quality. We strive to achieve maximum yield with our seeds and a minimum number of shape or colour deviations in the end product. We also offer products with unique characteristics, such as a tomato with an intense red colour on the inside or a melon that still tastes great even after a long period in transit.
Production and sustainability
We make an important contribution to improving the sustainability of vegetable production, such as by developing local varieties and increasing the yield per square metre. Resistances to diseases and plagues enable growers to reduce their use of crop protection agents. We also play a role in the development of sustainable crop production techniques, and we offer a wide range of varieties for organic or hydroponic production.
Convenience and versatility
We offer countless different convenience-related solutions which vary per crop. Tapping into the huge diversity that nature offers us, we regularly introduce new types and colours. For example, we have developed a blocky tomato which is particularly suitable for filling, and our cocktail cucumber is the ideal healthy snack. We are also capitalising on the ‘grow your own’ trend. Our ‘living lettuces’ enable consumers to pick their own fresh lettuce leaves.
Health and nutrition
The more vegetables people eat, the better. That’s why we are focused on making every type of vegetable appealing and available. In addition, we gather data on the health benefits of our varieties. Our partners can then use that information when promoting certain vegetables. For eastern parts of Africa we are developing productive varieties from a number of local crops. This helps us to boost the income of local farmers while also stimulating overall vegetable consumption.