The story of Lorraine

‘New opportunities for fresh cut Cos lettuce’

Bakkavor’s ambition is to offer convenience, quality and enjoyment to the consumer through fresh prepared foods. To grow their business, produce technologist Lorraine Shaw is always looking for innovation in products and technology. One of her ambitions is to improve the shelf life of fresh cut salad leaves.

Natural solution

“One of the most popular salad leaves is Cos lettuce: no other lettuce type can match its texture and sweetness. Unfortunately, this is  the type of leaf that suffers most from cut surface discolouration, otherwise known as pinking, which may partly explain the decline in sales of Cos lettuce bags that we have seen over the past couple of years. This is why we were very interested when Rijk Zwaan told us that they had been working on  a natural solution to combat pinking on fresh cut lettuce, called Knox™.”

Large factory trials

“When we select new material to develop from Rijk Zwaan trials, we work in  close co-operation with our growers and with Rijk Zwaan. This was the same with Knox™. However, whilst we usually start with field trials followed up by small scale factory trials, in this instance we started immediately by assessing relatively large amounts of bagged material."

"We gathered an extensive amount  of data, which indicated  that the Knox™ trait could extend shelf life by at least two days. We still need to gather more data, particularly on agronomic aspects, but this initial result is very encouraging.”

Improved reliability

“In the first place we see Knox™ as an opportunity to improve the efficiency of our processes and the reliability of our product. We can also be more confident about the length of shelf life of cos lettuce, allowing us to increase our focus on other aspects such as colour, shape and taste. A further step could even be to extend the bag life of products containing cos, that would be fantastic.”