Bringing together bright, healthy, and inspiring vegetables, along with a deeper understanding of the foods we eat and why, is Rijk Zwaan's focus at this year's Hort Connections.
In an innovative move to help stimulate vegetable consumption, the vegetable seed breeding company has teamed up with the University of Newcastle (UON), Australia, to develop a free, online culinary nutrition course.
Rijk Zwaan's Retail and Trade Account Manager, Frances Tolson, said there are numerous health benefits to adding more color to your plate, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Despite these hard facts, 94 percent of Australian adults aren't consuming the recommended amounts of vegetables and fruit, with detriment to our long-term health. (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020/21 National Health Survey)
"We see it as our responsibility as an industry leader to help increase vegetable intake and get more vegetables on the menu," Frances said.
Rijk Zwaan does this agronomically by breeding sustainable vegetable varieties.
"The genetics within our seeds can impact the whole chain, and not only through higher yields and resistances. Our team works to increase harvest and production efficiencies, lengthen produce shelf life, and reduce waste at every stage. Amazing tastes, textures, and exciting concepts also increase vegetable consumption and value for the whole category," Frances said.
Managing Director of Rijk Zwaan Australia, and founder of the company's global social initiative, Love My Salad, Steven Roberts, said behavioral change is a big part of increasing Australia's vegetable intake.
"We want to share our love of the vegetables we create, and our research with the UON has shown that education about the nutritional importance of vegetables is a great way to do that."
The online course, developed for health, education, and horticultural industry professionals, is accessible for free through Rijk Zwaan's e-learning platform. Participants can expect in-depth information about nutrients, metabolism, and how the diet can mitigate chronic disease risk, alongside recipes, cooking tips, and access to research and resources. Learn more about the course by speaking with the Rijk Zwaan team at Hort Connections.
The conference will be held in Adelaide from June 5-7 and offers a great opportunity for all members of the chain to connect and learn more about our industry. The 2023 theme is 'Knowledge for Growth.'
"We're really inspired by this year's theme and excited to share ideas and knowledge about making vegetables more understood, appealing, and accessible," Frances said.
At Hort Connections, Rijk Zwaan will be showcasing vibrant varieties, including bright yellow watermelons, the popular piel de sapo, crunchy cos, and truss tomatoes, as well as Salanova butter lettuce mixes. Visit Rijk Zwaan at booths 242 and 244.