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Online communities bridge between consumer and industry

It started with a staff outing of the Australian branch of Rijk Zwaan, and ended with a worldwide online community. "With Love My Salad, we wanted to increase the global consumption of vegetables, Martine Boekestein, Brand Manager of Love my Salad, explains. The step from a seed breeder to setting up an online community may not seem very logical, but it is the future.

"We want to highlight the good sides, and give more information to consumers, because at the moment there's a lot that's still unknown about vegetables," Martine goes on. "That's why we share recipes, trends, events, but also background information, cultivation and information on growers, bloggers and chefs." With this approach, Rijk Zwaan wants to improve the image of fruit and vegetables.

Consumer contact
Because managing a community is completely different to breeding, Rijk Zwaan employs a community manager who focuses fully on the online platform. "The main audience are consumers, but to bring the community alive more, we look for other partners, like food bloggers, chefs, but also growers and retailers." Martine doesn't rule out that the community could also be attractive to other parties that don't work directly with fruit and vegetables. "All parties that work on increasing vegetable consumption, are more than welcome at Love my Salad."

The concept is the future, Martine thinks. The younger generation uses internet and social media more and more to look up information, particularly when it comes to food. Love my Salad responds to this by sharing knowledge and information, and by offering new inspiration. "But more communities isn't necessarily better. I think that too great a number of initiatives would weaken the overall effect, so it's better if we work together. And we gladly enter into such a partnership."

Future plans
Love My Salad is available in 13 languages, and is currently active in 20 countries. From the local (foreign) branches, the community is managed, with international coordination taking place in De Lier. The community has between 200 and 250 active members, and over 168,000 likes on Facebook, and it's growing every day.

And there are also future plans for the community. For this, Love My Salad is looking at other initiatives, such as organizing salad workshops or the initiative to offer meals to neighbours at an attractive price. "At Rijk Zwaan, we now have a salad bar in the cafeteria, where you can get salads made according to colleagues' recipes. Those are the types of initiatives we are looking at."

Register here to listen to Martine Boekestein and other speakers during the EU Fresh Info (December 3 and 4 in Rotterdam):
www.frugicom.nl/EUforum

Freshplaza is media partner of the event

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