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Chain partnership Tozer Seeds and Van Nature

Harvest first Flower Sprout from Dutch soil celebrated

At grower Eelco van Putten from Dirksland, the first harvest of Flower Sprout on Dutch soil was celebrated yesterday. The new vegetable, a hybrid of Brussels sprouts and kale, is bred by Tozer Seeds, which has entered into an exclusive partnership with growers' cooperative Van Nature for cultivation and marketing in the Netherlands.

Apart from the press and fellow growers, salespeople of trading companies Combilo, Haluco, Levarht and Scherpenhuizen were also present at the introduction of the biggest innovation in open field vegetables in years.

Marketing manager Robin Bartels of Tozer Seeds said that the Flower Sprout is the result of fifteen years of breeding work. The inspiration behind the idea for Flower Sprout arose from the desire to create a sprout with a milder flavour, is versatile and looks good. The result is a brand new vegetable, which looks like a small cabbage with green, ragged leaves and purple stripes. After a brief rinse, the Flower Sprouts can be steamed, stir-fried, cooked, blanched or put in the microwave. "The taste can't be compared to cabbage or Brussels sprouts. It's a new flavour, one that people don't know yet."

Robin Bertels of Tozer Seeds

Since 2010, the Flower Sprout has been sold, exclusively at Marks & Spencer for the first two years, after which the vegetable became available elsewhere as well, being sold by Waitrose and Asda. Robin Bartels said he wanted the new vegetable to become available at all large Dutch retailers, getting a permanent place on shelves. The cultivation runs from November until April. That it's a natural product and will remain so, also became apparent in Dirksland, where Flower Sprout production lagged behind a bit due to a tough growing season. This week, a little later than expected, the season is slowly getting started.

The men who will sell the product...

Mark Versluis of Van Nature said that a lot of research has been done at associated trading companies, to find out what customers in what countries desire the new product. In the market approach, a broad but selective approach of buyers is being used. With only half a hectare being reserved for the new crop last year, the Flower Sprout acreage at Eelco van Putten now numbers over 4.5 hectares already, based on the interest from trading companies. The largest part of sales has been contracted, with availability for free trade being limited. Consumer reactions will be watched closely, for instance through social media. At the moment, the branding is further deployed, for instance through the development of new labels for customers.

Eelco van Putten

This Saturday, Eelco van Putten himself will be in the Markthal to explain the product at the Vers van de Teler stand. The grower from Dirksland spoke of a mission to "get every kid to eat sprouts." In addition to green sprouts, he also has purple sprouts. Thanks to caterpillar tracks, Eelco is able to harvest the sprouts even after the heaviest rainfall (120 mm on October 10, 2013).

Purple sprouts

He also offers the sprouts in unique microwave packaging. The sprouts are cleaned, sorted and packaged in a modern location. Although the Flower Sprout is difficult to cultivate, the grower praised the quality and sublime shelf life of the product.

Johan Joosen, Wilfred Gaïkhorst, Arne Gorissen (Scherpenhuizen) and Eelco van Putten enjoy the dishes of Flower Sprout
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