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Current Position:Home » News » Agri & Animal Products » Topic

What is the lettuce of the future?

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2017-01-03  Views: 6
Core Tip: Forty years ago, iceberg lettuce would not have been found in supermarkets.
Forty years ago, iceberg lettuce would not have been found in supermarkets. Twenty years ago, convenience products could hardly be found, and in recent years, living lettuce is starting to become better-known. Moreover, large parties are also investing significantly in water-based lettuce cultivation, in greenhouses and in cultivation factories. Is this the lettuce of the future?

Diversity
Agriculturalist Bayer, of vegetable seed brand Nunhems, is continually working with this topic. For lettuce specialist Peter Does, one thing is certain: water-based lettuce cultivation. He has noticed greenhouse cultivation disappearing, while water-based cultivation, both in gutters and on floaters, increases every year. “There is a desire for clean and sustainably cultivated product. It has much potential and growth. We see installations with LED lighting, and we see that the product is popular with retailers. In Asia, for example, it is already commonplace.” The agriculturalists from Bayer are searching for new mixes for the trios. “Bionda, rossa and oak leaf is a standard combination, it has not changed in 15 years. We are now searching for alternative multi-leafs for these mixes.” The agriculturalist has now entered into conversation with retailers and consumers with these new combinations. “In the Netherlands, there is demand for a traditional product. In Canada, a combination of light green, dark green and dark red is preferred, for example. We can ensure a better shelf life and a better balance with new strains. Cultivators can flexibly harvest, because the heads stay the same.”

Convenience
Agriculturalist Rijk Zwaan is also active with the lettuce of the future. For years, they have been working on Salanova, living lettuce. They still see plenty of opportunities in convenience. “A British household spends over 40 euro per year on pre-sliced fresh produce, a German one about 5.50,” Jan Doldersum explained at the Obst and Gemuse Kongress this year. “However, we see expenses increasing sharply for convenience on the German market. The British market is much further along in its life cycle than the German market, which is still in its infancy. That offers opportunities.” The agriculturalist researched how convenience products are bought. “It is more spontaneous, more driven by impulse. A difference can also be made by paying attention to packaging, price and freshness of the product. Red, bitter lettuce does not do well in a single pack, but does work in a mixed pack.”

Practice

Besides agriculturalists, producers are also going to get started on the new products. In 2016, outdoor vegetable producer Van Dijk started with water-based lettuce cultivation in a greenhouse of five hectares. Deliscious and Boer en den Hoedt have been active in this for a longer period already. And then there is the Staay Food Group, which is currently building climate cells for the convenience segment. They are planning to harvest the first lettuce at their City Farm in Dronten in 2017.

The growing market share for alternative types of lettuce, however, does not just ensure a growing production. It is at the expense of the position of iceberg lettuce. Iceberg lettuce has been cultivated in the Netherlands since the 1970s, and is the largest type of lettuce in Dutch production. According to the CBS, the area peaked around 2008/09, with about 2,800 hectares. Due to bad financial results, the cultivation area decreased in the following years, and was at its lowest, with not even 2,000 hectares, in 2013. According to the CBS, there is about 2,383 hectares of iceberg lettuce in the Netherlands again by now. Rumours from the sector say a decrease has started again despite this, caused by a growing market share of alternative types of lettuce. Butterhead lettuce is also suffering because of the new strains. Exact figures are unknown in the Netherlands, but the German area decreased by about ten per cent this year according to the German Thuren Institute.

 
keywords: lettuce
 
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