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What happened to vegetable innovations of the past?

Innovation – always an integral part of horticulture! But how did recent vegetable innovations fare after their introduction? Taking the Fruit Logistica Innovation Award as a lead, we look at the successes of recent years. Which ones are still around?

This year, the Fruit Logistica Innovation Award was awarded for the tenth time. Exhibitors are invited to bring in their innovations, and a few weeks before the exhibition ten nominees are announced, after which follows the awards ceremony in Berlin. Last year the award went to the concept of City Farming by Staay Food Group and lettuce grower Deliscious. But in recent years the price often went to the vegetable sector.

Household name

On the occasion of the award’s decennial, Jan Doldersum of Rijk Zwaan looks back on winning the first ever award for the root ball lettuce Salanova. "I can’t believe it's been seven years. The timing of winning the FLIA was perfect, offering an international platform for this new type of lettuce. Now, in 2014, I think we can establish that Salanova was a true inspiration to the salad sector." Seven years after winning, the Salanova range is extensive and has even become a household name.

The ‘Intense’ tomato for Nunhems (now called Bayer Crop Science Vegetable Seeds) received the award in 2008. Today, the variety is still a stand-out product for the breeder. The non-leaking tomato was put in the limelight this year by BelOrta at the Tavola. According to grower Marja Verdonck, the only downside is that the product is not always available. "That problem will diminish as production increases in the future." That seed breeders do well at the Fruit Logistica, is also reflected in the 2012 win of Syngenta, who took home the award for the red, seedless Angello pepper. The variety is grown worldwide, with more colour varieties coming.

Way of the dodo?
The current status of the ‘SweetGreen’ peppers of Enza Zaden is less clear. In 2009 the pepper was praised by the jury because of its flavour and its high vitamin C content. The innovation could count on lots of media attention. In 2010, Dutch retailer C1000 selected the variety and in 2011 the concept was rolled out in the UK supermarket Sainsbury's. After that, however, things became rather quiet. The website is no longer updated, though the variety is still offered as a speciality through Enza Zaden.
The buzz also seems to have subsided around the Vitaminis, the concept (consisting of a snack pepper, cocktail cucumber and honey tomato) that brought victory to FresQ and Rainbow Growers back in 2008. Now that FresQ is dismantled and the name Rainbow Growers is no longer used, the Vitaminis appear to have gone the way of the dodo. However, the snack segment, which was still in its infancy in 2008, has grown into a mature industry. Looije Tomatoes has been successfully marketing the honey tomato for a few years now. Also, Harvest House, now the home for most FresQ growers, has a wide range of snack vegetables.

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