26 Feb 2018
Strength in Spain stuns Australian growers
Rijk Zwaan solidified its standing as a market leader in spinach and Salanova to a cohort of Australian growers following a study tour to Spain in February.
A group of 17 leafy crop growers from Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia visited European producers and global breeders, and spent two days at the 2018 International Spinach Conference as part of a tour that aimed to provide further knowledge in global spinach production, spinach varieties, production challenges and management techniques.
Working with tour organisers, Andrew Bulmer (Bulmer Farms) and Stuart Grigg (Ag-Hort Consulting), Rijk Zwaan Australia Sales Representative, Rob Philip, coordinated a special visit to Rijk Zwaan Spain’s trial fields in the European winter ‘salad bowl’ growing region of Murcia, in the south east of Spain.
“We wanted to show our strength in the Spanish market so we invited the tour group to our own trial fields in Murcia,” Rob said.
Rijk Zwaan's International Crop Coordinator for Spinach, Wim in ‘t Groen, and Local Crop Specialist, Santiago Gastón, were on hand to show the group through the spinach and lettuce varieties that are suitable for Australian conditions.
“Goldeneye was the main variety that everyone commented on. It was a standout - dark green colour, upright, very uniform, it just looked glamour – everyone was wanting seed,” Rob said.
“Parakeet and Kolibri also looked great so that’s three varieties that are all suitable for the Australian summer segment. This visit should open up our sales for summer going forward complementing our market leading winter variety Platypus.”
The group also viewed the superb display of lettuce, including the complete Salanova assortment.
“It blew everyone away. There were lots of varieties and we showed them the highlights in the greens and the reds with a bit of innovation coming through with the Salanova cos target bred for the salad leaf market,” Rob said.
In addition to the quality of the varieties in the fields, the professional presentation of Rijk Zwaan and focus on the customer really made the company stand out.
“The marquee, the seating area, food and drink on demand and individual attention for each grower was really professional,” Rob said.
“The Spanish team showed key customers around and then sat at a table, had a debrief and took notes to follow up on later - the Australian growers were really impressed with that. The team were so accommodating and it was all about the customer and of course the varieties.”
Following the field day, Rijk Zwaan hosted a dinner, which included some of the spinach growers from The Netherlands who were also attending the trials.
“It was quite a unique networking opportunity as there are not many chances to talk to growers and key players from all over Australia,” Rob said.
“I’m based in Victoria, so I know the Victoria growers pretty well, but it was a real opportunity to get to know the growers from Queensland and Western Australia. When I visit the other states now, there will be a lot more understanding of Rijk Zwaan and what we are trying to do,
“Without a doubt there are many opportunities coming off the back of this trip for Rijk Zwaan.”
The tour ran from 9 – 18 February and was coordinated by Andrew and Stuart under the EGVID banner and supported by a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund.