02 Apr 2020

Three big events for Australian growers, starting in Europe

Following the success of last years’ Fruit Logistica, which attracted over 78,000 visitors from 135 countries, Rijk Zwaan’s Western Australian Sales Representative, Lachlan Grierson travelled to Berlin for the 2020 event, held on 5 – 7 February.

The event brings together fresh produce growers from around the globe, providing them with the opportunity to share information and discuss current and upcoming industry innovations.

Lachlan was able to meet a number of Australian, South African and New Zealand growers, at Fruit Logistica and at the Rijk Zwaan retail centre, both located in Berlin.

Fruit Logistica as well as the Rijk Zwaan Retail Centre put a strong emphasis on innovation across both product and packaging. With a focus on sustainability in production and innovation in products, food waste and flavour was the feature, with a range of small tasty snacking vegetable varieties displayed.

Jono Craven, General Manager Agriculture from Houston’s Farm commented that it was “Good to see new concepts and plant material in this format. It was also excellent to see retail concepts and layout with clients products.

An emphasis was placed on using less packaging or no packaging at all. There was also a strong emphasis on recyclability and natural fibres that can be composted.

The RZ Retail Centre showcased RZ varieties that offered a point of difference in the marketplace with Knox™ lettuce varieties demonstrating extended shelf life capabilities, truss and snacking tomatoes showcasing superior flavour and appearance, and snack cucumbers displaying convenience and taste.

Jono Craven also stated that it was “Great to see a range of packaging materials with sustainability and recycling front of mind.”

Rijk Zwaan Retail Centre
Reddery RZ a new cherry truss variety
Salatrio

Captions: Rijk Zwaan Retail Centre, Reddery RZ a new cherry truss variety, Salatrio

 

Following from Fruit Logistica, Rijk Zwaan then hosted its annual International Winter Open Field Days, from 10 to 14 February. The event is in its tenth year and sees growers from Spain, Europe and all over the world, including Australia descend upon the south east of Spain.

Rijk Zwaan’s winter demo days in Murcia, Spain

Caption: Rijk Zwaan’s winter demo days in Murcia, Spain

 

Those interested in learning more about winter crops travelled to the winter ‘salad bowl’ production area in the Spanish growing region of Murcia. Here they met with Rijk Zwaan Crop Specialists to observe fruit and vegetable varieties, many of which are suitable for growing under similar Australian conditions.

Located in Murcia, the Rijk Zwaan research and development centre ‘CED La Palma’, conducted demonstration trials showcasing a selection of Rijk Zwaan varieties. The event featured a small demonstration of hydroponic lettuce. Participants were also able to partake in a variety of activities, which included visiting:

  • A hydroponic lettuce production factory with vertical farming and high tech tomato production;
  • Rijk Zwaan’s trial demonstration centre in Almeria, featuring protected crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers and capsicums and new growing systems such as hydroponics.

A number of varieties of special interest for our Australian delegates included:

  • Beniel RZ: A gem (baby cos) lettuce for winter
  • Jalonas RZ: A heavy processing iceberg lettuce for winter production
  • Tendita RZ: A crunchy snacking small cos lettuce
Australian grower, Stuart Grigg and with RZ’s leafy crop specialist Bauke van Lenteren

Caption: Australian grower, Stuart Grigg and with RZ’s leafy crop specialist Bauke van Lenteren

 

Additional varieties showcased comprised next generation snacking lettuces that will offer exciting opportunities in the twin pack segment and varieties such as Barbex RZ and Excurio RZ which can offer improvements in yield, flavour while also offering the Knox™ trait, extending shelf life and improving appearance.

While speaking to the dedicated group of Australian growers, Lachlan highlighted the benefits of Knox, the exciting opportunities available with snack lettuce and the benefits of Salanova to create improved salad leaf products for Australian consumers.

Growers commented that it was a “Fantastic trial site with very well presented crops and great support & knowledge from RZ reps and plant breeders. Having access to the plant breeders enabled excellent knowledge sharing and was a good conduit for my specific requirements and future needs to be shared.”

Jono Craven, mentioned that Rijk Zwaan “shared a number of growing tips that we will trial. It also enabled me to view early stage development material that is not available locally and provide feedback for our production systems.

In terms of the value of attending the event, Jono summarised his experience by saying there were “Excellent facilities, great food and hospitality. I just need the Spanish to eat dinner earlier!”

Several growers from South Africa had originally been planning to travel to Australia to attend the East Gippsland Vegetable Innovation Field days, held in May. The event held in Lindenow, Victoria attracts an audience including over 650 vegetable growers, researchers, industry service providers and government representatives.

At this event, Australia’s top seed companies showcase varieties for growers and the wider industry and highlight exciting produce and product innovations, including production and sustainability initiatives.

With recent Coronavirus concerns, it appears unlikely that the event will go ahead in May (yet to be confirmed). In the past, a number of Australian growers have made a significant effort to travel to the various industry events held across the globe in order to share in the latest innovations in varieties and growing techniques and we look forward to welcoming them at future events also.