10 Feb 2021

Rijk Zwaan hosts meetings with North American Cucumber partners

Rijk Zwaan recently held a series of online meetings with greenhouse cucumber growers/ marketing companies in North America. The aim was to discuss the seed companies’ latest research into consumers’ purchasing preferences as well as shelf life characteristics of cucumbers.

Although the COVID-19 restrictions meant that it was not possible to meet in person, Rijk Zwaan was able to discuss valuable insights with its partners ‘virtually’ by hosting the meetings from its very own studio. “The studio setting gives us the opportunity to hold personal, interactive and effective meetings while respecting and following all the COVID-19 safety regulations,” comments John DeVries, Account Manager at Rijk Zwaan.

Shelf life and consumer behaviour

“The goal of these meetings was to bring our partners up to date on the findings from recent studies into shelf life and consumer behaviour,” says Heleen van Rijn-Wassenaar, Specialist Marketing Pepper & Cucumber at Rijk Zwaan. One interesting topic of discussion during the meetings was how packaging concepts for snack cucumbers can minimise the use of plastics without reducing the shelf life. “We explained that one of our company strategies is aimed at producing cucumber varieties with an even longer shelf life. We also talked about the supply-chain factors that can prolong shelf life, as well as what consumers regard as indicators of a long shelf life when buying fresh produce.”

Other Rijk Zwaan goals take a much longer-term and broader perspective. For instance, food waste is one of the world’s biggest contributors to CO2 emissions. Therefore, initiatives to reduce post-harvest food waste can have a positive effect on the carbon footprint. In this context, Nikolaos Ntagkas, Post-harvest Researcher at Rijk Zwaan, demonstrated during the meetings how storing snack cucumbers at the optimum temperature can extend their shelf life and thus help to minimise waste.

Knowledge partner

“Much more information is shared about other vegetable crops, but cucumbers are unique so it is important to share as much knowledge about these topics as possible,” John continues. Rijk Zwaan is keen to support the industry as a cucumber knowledge partner. “We are one of the world’s largest suppliers of hybrid seeds to high-tech growers. Initiatives like these studio-based meetings enable our fresh produce chain partners to benefit from our extensive knowledge and experience. Meanwhile, we gain valuable new insights into current and future needs.”

Moving forward

Rijk Zwaan’s California based Retail Manager, David Perie, is involved in every aspect of cucumbers after they leave the producer. According to David, this research confirms that consumer cucumber preferences are largely traditional, even amidst the current pandemic. However, with strategic efforts to introduce new shapes and sizes, consumers are reacting positively to having more choice from snack to meal time.