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Louis and Steven Lauwers, Vegobel:

"Harvest herbs, plugs, as a new local and organic herb concept"

Vegobel is set to innovate in the herb market with the launch of a new concept. The organic herb nursery specializes in potted herbs, and with its new 'pick herbs,' it aims to innovate further, focusing on sustainability, convenience, and quality. "This new concept, the plugs or affectionately called 'pick herbs,' derives its name from the small clump of soil or 'plug' on which the herb is grown and embraces the charm of 'picking' fresh, living herbs in your kitchen. The new concept essentially offers a bundle of aromatic fresh herbs on a small earth plug that will extend its freshness. These are completely organically grown, without the use of any plastics," Steven and Louis Lauwers of the company explain.

Louis and Steven Lauwers with the new pick herbs.

"The idea for the pick herbs was born now that most retailers no longer want to 'fly in' herbs and consumers are more concerned about sustainable and pesticide-free cultivation. Our new pick herbs fully meet these requirements. They will go on 'living' in their flowpack or paper packaging, arriving fresh and still 'alive' at their destination. Then, the consumer can easily and quickly get to work with the organic herb as intended," Steven Lauwers continues. The company was founded in 1995 by the brothers Arthur, Wim, and Steven Lauwers, but now the next generation, including Louis and Lode, is following in their footsteps.

Innovative cultivation
With an eye on sustainability, the nursery invested in a vertical cultivation system, say Steven and Louis. "There, we can grow almost entirely with renewable energy, without fossil fuels, and thus manage to cultivate almost CO2-neutrally. With minimal water usage and a much lower impact on our environment thanks to the tiered cultivation. Thanks to this cultivation system, we also managed to realize smaller herb portions of very good quality and freshness. That's actually how the pick herbs came about. Now we're trying to tap into new markets with them. All the benefits of fresh, living herbs, such as taste, aroma, freshness, but combined with the convenience of a smaller packaging. Moreover, this is centrally cultivated in the market and also uses significantly less plastic than with cut herbs."

Vegobel has now fully embarked on its new 'pick herbs' concept. "Currently, we are growing about ten types of pick herbs. We started with the bestsellers, wanting to see how things develop. Think, for example, of basil, parsley, thyme, chives, and oregano. Moreover, it's ideal for herbs where you normally don't need whole bunches, such as sage or tarragon. Those are the varieties we're mainly focusing on at the moment. However, we can easily respond to the demand from our customers. We are noticing that our pick herbs are doing exceptionally well with meal box suppliers and in online channels."

A fresh, living plant for use in the kitchen
This combination of fresh quality and convenience is clearly appealing, because, as Louis states, different segments showed interest quickly. "For example, it's already doing well in the online segment for home deliveries and food box suppliers. They were mainly looking for more sustainable alternatives to the imported cut herbs, but the concept of organic, fresh, and unsprayed also appealed to them. This is also completely in line with the product experience: a fresh, living bunch of herbs that appears in your meal box and can be plucked and used in your dish directly because of its organic nature, without washing. It's also the ideal size, as it can be used in its entirety in one or two dishes. That way, we are contributing to the fight against food waste. Moreover, it comes in a resealable paper flowpack which sits neatly alongside the other ingredients in the box. After use, the earth plug can easily be disposed of in your green waste bin or be composted."

Furthermore, Vegobel is also exploring retail opportunities for its pick herbs. "Because we are convinced that our pick herbs also have their place in the convenience shelf of the supermarket or specialty store, without compromising on freshness and quality and awareness of its origin. The pick herbs fit perfectly into the spirit of the times," Louis and Steven conclude. "Locally, organically and sustainably grown, CO2-neutral, completely plastic-free, and with the aromas of a fresh, living plant, in a handy portion."

For more information:
Louis and Steven Lauwers
Missestraat 27
2570 Duffel - Belgium
Tel.: +32 15 32 15 00
Email: [email protected]

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