Collaborative partnership in Argentina
Bringing healthy Salanova® to a wider audience
Today, healthy food is more important than ever. There is evidence of this in the retail channel too, where consumers are increasingly buying fresh produce – such as Salanova®, for example. This green leafy vegetable is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Now, thanks to a collaborative partnership between Finca El Sauce and Expo Verde Agricola facilitated by Rijk Zwaan, the product that was already present in the main Argentinian supermarkets, now shows a wider coverage.
The foundations for this success story were laid in February 2020, when Rijk Zwaan introduced a Salanova grower to a major processing/transport company for leafy vegetables. Both companies are based in Mendoza City and always on the lookout for valuable new opportunities – and Salanova certainly offered one! This was a terrific chance to bring this unique lettuce to a broader audience, locally produced by Finca El Sauce and washed and packed by Expo Verde.
The plans came to fruition in the summer of 2020 and Salanova is now sold by three different grocery chains that are supplied by Expo Verde. Consumers can choose between a bag containing two or four loose heads of lettuce and a cone-shaped bag containing one or two heads with the root ball still attached. Even though the commercial phase of the project has only just started, Marcelo Martin, director of Expo Verde, expects that other retailers will soon be keen to list this product too. The packaging has been customised to display the company names of both Finca El Sauce and Expo Verde besides the Salanova logo, making it a truly unique concept.
Salanova is Finca El Sauce’s flagship product. Grower and owner Alejandro David talks enthusiastically about the wide variety of crops that the company grows, including salad vegetables. He gets an extra twinkle in his eyes when the conversation turns to his lettuce crops, of which Salanova makes up at least 70%. The main varieties at the moment are Sartre RZ, Klee RZ and Desirade RZ, but the company is continuously trialling a number of newcomers too. The lettuces are produced hydroponically. “We use both NFT and floating production systems,” says David. “They are effective technologies that are a good fit with our high quality standards. In fact, earlier this year we extended the size of the lettuce area to 7,000 m² and most of that extra space is being used for our Salanova range.”
Needless to say, the increase in production is closely linked to the new sales channel. Whereas Finca El Sauce previously supplied Salanova to high-end greengrocers and the foodservice segment only, the grocery channel has now been added too. This is a positive development for Argentinian consumers who are looking for a fresh product with a difference. Likewise, Expo Verde is pleased with the opportunities Salanova offers. Rijk Zwaan introduced the concept to Martin back in 2018. “A delegation of Argentinian companies travelled to the Netherlands and Spain to learn more about it. Funnily enough, Finca El Sauce was part of that delegation too, but we didn’t start doing business together until Rijk Zwaan suggested concrete ways in which we could pool our strengths. David grows the product and we add value to it; it’s a formidable combination.”
Exchanging knowledge and skills
Rijk Zwaan’s involvement further reinforces the synergy. David and Martin are impressed by the vegetable breeding company’s strong and innovative varieties. David: “Besides the various Salanovas, we also have good experience with Rijk Zwaan’s tomato specialties and other snack vegetables. Additionally, we are embracing their sweet pointed pepper project; we’re producing Sweet Palermo® varieties in all three colours.” The grower emphasises that their partnership goes further than the product itself: “Rijk Zwaan shares chain information and its network of contacts with us. And the company has lots of knowledge, including about hydroponic production systems. For example, I’ve had many enjoyable and informative conversations with Marc Celis and Joao Maldonado about fertilisation, plant nutrition and diseases. That kind of guidance is very valuable.”
Rijk Zwaan helped to accelerate the partnership between Finca El Sauce and Expo Verde. It is a good example of our company’s initiatives to support growers and partners in their efforts to produce, distribute and/or process fresh fruit and vegetables. Based on the very latest market insights, we are keen to help the fresh produce chain to adapt to the ‘new economy’ by offering tailor-made, relevant and applicable advice and solutions. If you want to know more, take a look at www.rijkzwaan.com/stronger-together