“When I was a kid, cauliflower was very popular, but that isn't the case now,” said Tokita's Ike Tokita. “We wanted to bring that vegetable back to the market.” After seven years of research and development, the Fioretto is ready. It has long stems, is sweet and very tender. It's appealing to consumers, added Ike, because of the flavor and because it's easy to incorporate into meals.
“It's kind of a vegetable for everybody,” he said. “You don't have to educate consumers on how to eat it, which is one of the reasons why the speed of promotion has been rather quick.” That promotion has included demos at Berlin's Fruit Logistica show as well as running eye catching bus advertisement in Saitama, Japan, to generate interest among consumers.
Through a collaboration with Marks and Spencer, the item will hit U.K. shelves in late-April under the name of Biancoli. Already a hit in Japan, South Africa and Australia, the success of the item in those markets has been limited only by the amount of seed Tokita can produce as well as the number of growers it can contract to grow the item. Ike hopes the item can be just as successful in Europe.
“Things are more advanced in South Africa and Australia, perhaps, because the varieties adapt better to the climates there,” explained Ike. “We're having more difficulty getting a variety that's well-adapted to European climates, but we're making improvements on the varieties we have so we can expand more into Europe and possibly the United States.” The company has received lots of inquiries from Belgium and Sweden, so the cauliflower variety could soon be in Continental stores.
Kabocha is squash for the sweet tooth
Though a common squash variety in Japan, the Kabocha is not well-known in Europe. Ike thinks Kabocha will be well-received in Europe, and Tokita Seed is looking for growers and retailers with whom to partner in order to give European consumers a chance to try the item.
“We changed the texture so that it's drier,” said Ike. “The meat is not as nutty, so people love to eat the sweet squash as a snack, especially kids. It can be eaten in many different ways, but the best way is to just steam it and enjoy the texture and natural sweetness. That's what makes it stand out from other squash, and I think it will be a very popular item in the future.”
For more information:
c/o Hanano Sasaki
Tokita Seed (Japan)
tel 0081-48-072-3377; 008148-686-7235