How vegetable breeding can help to meet consumer demands for sustainability

Nowadays, sustainability is increasingly incorporated into a company’s business operations. Consumers have high expectations in terms of organic produce, low pesticide levels and alternatives to plastic packaging. So how can vegetable breeding companies play a role in offering solutions for ever-more demanding consumers?

Sustainable production with CleanLeaf®

According to the Danish consumer association Forbrugerrådet Tæk, in Denmark retailers such as Aldi, Coop and Lidl are responding to this consumer trend by demanding their suppliers to stay well below the legal limits for pesticide levels. To help them, Rijk Zwaan builds sustainability measures into its vegetable breeding process, not only by investing in breeding varieties with resistances to various diseases, but also by exploring other plant traits that can contribute to a more sustainable world. One example of such a project is the CleanLeaf® aubergine concept.

CleanLeaf® is aligned with consumer expectations

Rijk Zwaan’s CleanLeaf® concept is aligned with rising consumer expectations related to sustainability. The first variety that was launched recently, called Kesia RZ, thrives in Mediterranean conditions such as in Spain and Greece, and is also extremely suitable for biological cultivation. CleanLeaf® aubergine plants are almost hairless and therefore less attractive to certain pests. This improves integrated pest management and means that less corrective spraying is needed, thus resulting in less residue on the fruits.

More appealing fruits and less food waste

Not only are the plants themselves hairless but so too is the calyx of the aubergine, plus it is greener compared to conventional varieties. This makes it more appealing to consumers; consumer research has shown that 57% prefer the greener hairless version compared to 31% of consumers who prefer the conventional variety. Research has also demonstrated that Kesia RZ has a good shelf life, leading to less food waste. Breeding for products with a good shelf life is yet another example of how Rijk Zwaan is helping growers and retailers to achieve their sustainability goals. As for consumers, they benefit from not only a more sustainable product, but also a more attractive one thanks to the greener calyx.

Interested in CleanLeaf® aubergines?

Rijk Zwaan is happy to put retailers and traders in touch with its growers so they can experience this new concept for themselves. For more information, please visit cleanleaf or contact Heleen van Rijn-Wassenaar, Specialist Marketing Pepper & Cucumber at Rijk Zwaan.