31 May 2021

Rijk Zwaan talks sustainability at Hort Connections

Food security is high on everyone’s agenda as more than 690 million people don’t have enough to eat (World Vision); more education about healthy food is needed to curb obesity and malnutrition; and innovative vegetable breeding is focusing on protecting our resources – how vegetable seed companies are addressing these concerns is one topic of conversation at this year’s Hort Connections.

From June 7 – 9, Hort Connections will be held in Brisbane and offers a great opportunity for all members in the chain to reconnect and learn more about our industry. Rijk Zwaan’s Manager of Retail and Trade, Jan Doldersum, will present a talk on ‘Breeding for Sustainability’ and discuss how Rijk Zwaan is supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“At Rijk Zwaan, we firmly believe in food security, where everyone has access to healthy and affordable vegetables through breeding for higher yields, whilst preserving our natural resources and biodiversity,” Jan said.

“We continue to improve resource-efficiency by breeding resilient and resistant varieties to adapt to climate change, reducing the requirement for crop protection.”

Throughout Rijk Zwaan, we are addressing the changing needs of a growing population by breeding sustainable vegetable varieties that:

  • provide higher yields with the right resistances (cucumbers with the Blueleaf® trait which produces stronger plants and gives growers improved reliability of supply)
  • are fit for new production methods that lead to a higher productivity (hydroponics)
  • can be harvested and processed more efficiently, minimising labour inputs (Salanova® varieties which offer a convenient solution for processors with their forkable sized leaves)
  • offer benefits for food service, retailers, and are better for consumers and the environment (Knox™ trait in lettuce which reduces oxidisation on cut surfaces to ensure less food wastage)
  • are tasty and convenient in order to stimulate increased vegetable consumption (e.g. Sweet Palermo, and snack tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers)
  • provide better working conditions (eg CleanLeaf®)

Rijk Zwaan will be at this year’s conference, stand 320. To learn more about sustainable innovations such as Cleanleaf®, our new generation of eggplant varieties, or our five-tomato snacking medley to help boost vegetable consumption, read more here.

As Rijk Zwaan continues to breed innovative sustainably produced vegetable varieties, there is much focus on nutrition and increasing vegetable consumption. 

Malnutrition is not just a third-world problem. According to the Australian Institute of Health, in 2018, an estimated two thirds of Australians aged 18 and over, were overweight with 31 percent obese. That’s 12.5 million Australians.

The financial burden of obesity in Australia is estimated to be $11.8 billion. This is having a huge impact on our health and wellbeing, with strong evidence building to suggest that increased vegetable consumption could be the answer. 

“We are seeing some really positive movements in this space as people are seeking to learn more about vegetables,” Jan said.

“Our Love My Salad network continues to support consumers with education and inspiration about vegetables. Throughout last year when more people were staying home to prepare meals, our website lovemysalad.com, home to delicious recipes featuring loads of vegetables as well as blogs, saw a 300 percent spike in visits.”

Rijk Zwaan Australia also collaborates with non-government organisations (NGOs) and knowledge institutions to develop strategies to increase vegetable consumption, including a recent project with the University of Newcastle to develop a culinary nutrition short course for health professionals.

“As a collective, I believe we are all working hard to support the goals of the United Nations and are making huge strides in this area. We’re really excited to see that ‘Celebrating the International Year of Fruit and Vegetables’ as the topic for this year’s Hort Connections,” Jan said.

To hear more about Rijk Zwaan’s international approach to breeding sustainably, Hort Connections attendees are invited to view a pre-recorded presentation by Rijk Zwaan’s Manager of Retail and Trade, Jan Doldersum in the Trade Show presentation area on Wednesday 9 June from 8:40 – 9:00am.