06 Mar 2019

Breeding innovations ensure sustainable food

The world of food, fibre and farming will come together this month to focus on global food security, and Rijk Zwaan will demonstrate our corporate social responsibility through innovations in vegetable breeding that are helping to sustain cucumber production and increase lettuce consumption.

Rabobank will host Farm2Fork on Cockatoo Island, Sydney, on March 28. With a special emphasis on Earth, Waste and Succession, the conference will display the latest inventions and developments from Australia, New Zealand and across the world.

Sharing Rabobank’s vision for a sustainable future, this year Rijk Zwaan is linking its sustainability objectives to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Our activities and innovations support four of the 17 SDG: to end hunger and achieve food security and improved nutrition; to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth; to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; and to strengthen partnerships.

At Farm2Fork, Rijk Zwaan is highlighting its innovations Knox and Blueleaf, which are contributing to a better world by reducing waste in lettuce and securing longevity and production in cucumbers.

Retail and Trade Manager, Frances Tolson said the Knox trait is one of the most exciting innovations in vegetable breeding and it has strengthened partnerships throughout the chain.

Consumer demand for convenience in food led to the breeding of lettuce types with smaller and more processable leaves, and this in turn drove the evolution of bagged salads,” Frances said.

“However, oxidation, which causes the pinking on the edges of cut leaves, was an area where Rijk Zwaan could improve the leaf quality.”

Following more than a decade of conventional breeding, Rijk Zwaan developed the Knox trait, which delays the browning of cut surfaces by several days.

“This is a significant advancement for reducing waste and sustainable with better leaves that stay fresher for longer,” Frances said.

 Less than a year after its release, Knox was the winner of the 2017 Fruit Logistica Innovation Award. Knox was also awarded the 2018 AUSVEG Innovation Award for Excellence.

Another unique sustainable trait developed by Rijk Zwaan is the Blueleaf range of cucumber varieties, which can be identified by darker leaves. The colour is a result of higher chlorophyll levels in the plant.

This trait enables Blueleaf varieties to absorb more light and nutrients, meaning the plants respond better to stressful situations like temperature fluctuations and pest and disease pressure.

“In nature, some plants are more resistant to pests and diseases. We have worked with these plants to develop a range of cucumber plants that are stronger, healthier and show less susceptibility to diseases beyond their official HR and IR resistances,” Frances said.

“As a result, Blueleaf helps ensure growers achieve higher yields all year round resulting in improved reliability in supply.”

Read more about how Rijk Zwaan is innovating for sustainability at https://www.rijkzwaan.com.au/sustainability