Whether in a smoothie for ‘on the go’, snack tomatoes in a business meeting or an 80/20 meal at a top-class restaurant… Bauke van Lenteren, Manager Convenience at vegetable breeding company Rijk Zwaan, has noticed that fresh vegetables are becoming an increasingly important ingredient in the growing foodservice market.
There is less data available about the foodservice market than the retail sector because it is much more fragmented. Van Lenteren: “The foodservice and convenience market is made up of several different channels, such as food chains, restaurants, vegetable processing companies and institutional catering companies. Additionally, there are significant differences between individual countries. In France, for example, catering targeted at the education sector is big business. In the UK, we’re seeing a blurring of the lines between restaurants and supermarkets. And in the USA the out-of-home market is already bigger than the retail market because American consumers eat out much more often than they cook at home. The ratio is around 70:30.”
Although each country is evolving differently, the market is growing overall. The statistics also show that the share of fresh vegetables in the foodservice segment is on the rise. In the Netherlands, Dutch foodservice companies purchased 10% more fruit and vegetables in 2018 than in the previous year, according to figures from GroentenFruit Huis. Salads, vegetable blends and tomatoes are most popular. Van Lenteren: “Michelin-starred chef Niven Kunz has been one of the pioneers of Dutch cuisine. He launched the 80/20 philosophy – the ratio of vegetables to meat on a plate – and inspired other chefs to do the same. A similar trend could be seen during the European Convenience Forum in Hamburg. Research has shown that the out-of-home market purchases the most fresh-cut fruit and vegetables in Germany.”
A specific variety for every snack
Van Lenteren expects this trend to continue, and Rijk Zwaan is capitalising on it with innovations. “We have a specific variety that meets the needs of the restaurant, food chain or caterer for every application. Our cos lettuce with KnoxTM is the ideal solution for Caesar salads, for example. And we have the perfect lettuce leaves for every type of sandwich – classic baguettes, hamburgers or flatbreads. In fact, our Wrap Lettuce can even replace the bread altogether. Our extra-large tomatoes can be used as hamburger toppings, and versatile babyleaf spinach is the ideal ingredient in a healthy smoothie or salad for lunch.”
Over the coming month, Rijk Zwaan will be putting these and other out-of-home applications in the spotlight. Van Lenteren: “We hope to inspire foodservice companies to use even more vegetables!” That’s how we share a healthy future.