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Galkia – the melon that always tastes like melon

The skin of Bayer's new Galkia melon indicates the best time for harvest by changing from green to yellow.

Bayer launched its Galkia melon at Fruit Logistica 2016 with the promise of consistent melon flavour and quality, and optimum ripeness, all through summer. “The times of unpleasant surprises when buying a melon are over,” said Carin Stroeken, produce chain manager of the Europe Middle East & Africa region at Bayer’s vegetable seeds business.

Bayer says the new Galkia brand instead marks a return to the rich aroma and flavour of the time-honoured melon, and one which meets the demands of today’s markets “at every step of the value chain.”

Exclusive ripeness indicator

Harvesting Galkia melons at their ideal flavour and firmness is simple because this is when their skins turn from green to yellow. Bayer says this innovative ripeness indicator is the secret behind its guarantee that its melons will always taste like melons. It also means they reach Northern European markets at their optimum point of ripeness, throughout summer.

“One of our strengths is to work closely with each part of the food chain and the supply chain to understand and anticipate their demands,” Stroeken said. “Our customers can rely on the best quality. No surprises here!”

Galkia is being grown in different parts of Spain, such as Almeria, Murcia and La Mancha, to ensure summer-long supply – from early June to the end of September. Three Galkia varieties will be available this summer: Kirene, Kinder and Kinetic.

Bayer also has projects underway that would see Galkia varieties grown in the Southern Hemisphere, further increasing its availability.

Image courtesy of Bayer Crop Science

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Flower Sprout® and Kalettes® in the US & Australia

Tozer Seeds takes Kalettes®, their cross between Brussels sprouts and kale, across the pond to the US.

Tozer Seeds is the European market leader in parsnip and celery varieties and has been for decades although this year has been a little more difficult than previous ones due to overproduction of parsnips in the UK. Despite this, Tozer Seeds has seen growth in various markets this year. Celery has had a good season in many countries and there is more interest in varieties which are extremely suitable for the upright stalk market. As Robin Bartels, Sales and Marketing Manager for Tozer Seeds says, their company offers a complete portfolio and can be seen as one of the celery experts in the market and is constantly working to develop varieties with better resistance and flavour.

Breeding is the heart and soul of this company and Tozer Seeds’ breeders use both traditional breeding methods and modern molecular biology (although they do not use GM) as well as their own intuition to come up with new vegetables with an emphasis on flavour and uniqueness and the ability to thrive in the field around the world. The process usually starts with screening a wide range of existing cultivars and sometimes wild relatives for plants with desirable characteristics. Individual plants showing the desirable characteristics are selected and pollinated in subsequent generations until the required characteristics are stabilised. This process can often take up to a decade.

Their newest products are coloured kales and kalettes or flower sprouts and in this case the process has taken 15 years from start to finish. It was come across more or less by accident with no way of knowing that it would become such a trendy product because of its health benefits and would hit the market just at the right time to take off. How could any one know 15 years ago that a kale hybrid would become the hot new vegetable of 2015 in the US? This brassica mash up started as a way of lessening the bitterness that bothers brussel sprout detractors and a way of making kale more versatile. As a result this new super vegetable looks like a mini cabbage with delicate, kale-like leaves and has a sweet, nutty taste and can be roasted, sautéed, grilled, microwaved and even eaten raw.

This hybrid of kale and Brussels sprouts is being marketed in Europe under the brand name Flower Sprout® and Kalettes® in the USA and Australia due to the different perception the different markets have. Kale is the vegetable of the moment in the USA but will forever be thought of as fodder for cattle whereas sprouts have slightly better press in the UK than in the US where George Bush said that one of the perks of being president was not having to eat your Brussels. New varieties and colours are being developed in these ranges to increase hardiness and extend the maturity window of these products as this leafy vegetable has one major drawback: it is seasonal and for the moment is only available between November and March. 

Image courtesy of:

This article appeared on page 123 of edition 141, Jan/Feb 2016, of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read that issue online here.

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Summer Kiwi presents MERIS, the green kiwi in perfect shape

MERIS, the new green kiwifruit variety, will be revealed at the Fruit Logistica trade fair in Berlin at the SUMMERFRUIT stand, Hall 4.2 - C 05.

MERIS, the new green kiwifruit variety, is raising great expectations. Now due for launching in 2016, the first 50,000 plants of this excellent product will soon be marketed in Europe, undoubtedly with great success.

This varietal innovation was discovered in Verona in 2012. The result of a mutation of Hayward, while retaining the elongated shape typical of the variety, it is distinguished by having dry matter one point higher and a harvest period that begins 10 days sooner. The fruit is less acidic and has better dry matter content. Thanks to this combination of factors, MERIS has the best taste qualities around. It also resembles the Hayward in its high productivity and good resistance to cold storage.

Trials are already underway with experimental implants, with marketing of the first MERIS fruits scheduled for 2018.

This excellent fruit, whose harvest begins in mid-October, will be revealed at the Fruit Logistica trade fair in Berlin at the SUMMERFRUIT stand, Hall 4.2 – C 05.

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Innovation transforms the lettuce landscape

Knox extends the shelf life of lettuce by 2 days.

Nothing beats the freshness of fresh lettuce, and fresh-cut bagged lettuce has gained considerable ground in recent years. However, the pinking on the edges poses a problem. In response to this, the breeders at Rijk Zwaan – who are continually working on innovations and improvements to existing products – set out in search of a nature-based solution. They developed a research method and tested the extent of discolouration in hundreds of lettuce heads. And then they had a breakthrough: the researchers found a plant with no discolouration even after three days. Extensive laboratory and practical tests have confirmed this unique trait.

Crossing into varieties

It appeared to be a recessive trait and breeders set to work to investigate its inheritance pattern. Once techniques such as genetic markers had provided certainty, it was time for the next step and the breeders initiated back-crossing into various lettuce types as quickly as possible. Finally, after a decade of continuous research and development, the breeders presented six varieties with the KNOX gene: Cos, Batavia, Iceberg, butterhead, Salanova® Crispy and Salanova® Butter.

A bright future for lettuce

KNOX was officially launched onto the market in September 2015 during the Rijk Zwaan Leafy Event, and the KNOX varieties were on display in the demo field in Fijnaart immediately afterwards. Visitors were very interested in the concept. All the enquiries from growers and processing companies are currently being evaluated so that widespread trials can start in 2016. Thanks to KNOX, the future of lettuce looks even brighter. Needless to say, the assortment of varieties will gradually be extended over the coming years to eventually make a KNOX version available for every favourite.

“KNOX extends the shelf life of lettuce by 2 days”

According to Bauke van Lenteren, Convenience Manager at Rijk Zwaan, KNOX responds to an important need among processors. “Thanks to KNOX, fresh-cut lettuce does not always need low-oxygen packaging. This reduces costs and gives processors more options when blending . Furthermore, it eliminates the unpleasant smell associated with opening low-oxygen packaging.” Combining the benefits for the processing industry with the advantages for retailers – better inventory management and less waste – reveals the true scope of KNOX: a more sustainable chain in which this groundbreaking innovation will hopefully stimulate consumers to purchase and hence eat lettuce more often. “After all, the KNOX benefits ultimately create a better consumer experience too.”

“Result of thorough research”

Rijk Zwaan researchers Johan Schut and Kees van Dun were closely involved in the development of KNOX. “It was a severe test of our patience sometimes. When we conducted a screening using wet filtration paper, we noticed that the exposed edges of the lettuce produced a pinkish colour upon contact. But unfortunately none of the leaf discs from our genetic material showed any deviations. We then hit on the idea that the plant might need to be a little older so we decided to use a batch of 10,000 plants grown to maturity.”

“In the test, one of the discs showed significantly less discolouration. The plant was retrieved and thankfully it produced seeds quite easily so breeding work could start soon afterwards. And the results of the first ‘bag trials’ were positive, too. The fact that it was a recessive trait made it a bit more difficult to cross it into commercial material. In order to be able to demonstrate the trait when heterozygous there was an immediate need for a genetic marker, which was a considerable challenge in view of lettuce’s large genome. Genomic breeding and bioinformatics were just starting to gain ground at that time so, supported by these disciplines, molecular biology was able to develop the marker entirely in-house.”

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GKE N.V. presents Migo®, its new pear

GKE N.V.  proudly presents its new pear, Migo®, which is positioned as ‘the Friendly Pear’ – the ideal snack anytime, anywhere. The taste remains unchanged – sweet, fresh and juicy as ever. Yet Migo® distinguishes itself through its great storage and shelf life, smooth peel, beautiful shape and size, and good firmness level. Migo® is exclusively cultivated by partners licensed by GKE.

GKE N.V. proudly presents its new pear, Migo®, which is positioned as ‘the Friendly Pear’ – the ideal snack anytime, anywhere. The taste remains unchanged – sweet, fresh and juicy as ever, the company says, yet Migo® distinguishes itself through its great storage and shelf life, smooth peel, beautiful shape and size, and good firmness level. Migo® is exclusively cultivated by partners licensed by GKE.

“Following the launch of the Kanzi® concept apple over ten years ago, we felt it was time for a new pear”, said Urs Luder of GKE N.V. “So we once again joined forces to develop a new concept pear to be launched on the market. We asked real pear lovers to share their wishes and even listened to pear haters’ comments. Why do they dislike pears? Their reaction was loud and clear, ‘We would gladly eat pears, but they should be less messy and of good quality, have a longer shelf life and last but not least, they need to be juicy! We’re looking for pears we can eat as a snack on the go.’ Migo® ticks all the boxes! This new, tasty and juicy pear that makes for the ideal snack will be harvested for the first time this month,” Luder said.

The first pear trees were planted last year and the first harvest will be a relatively limited one, but this variety has presented a stable yield and the trees need little pruning. “We are striving for a controlled expansion of the agricultural land to meet the market demand for Migo®”, Luder said. “We are confident that this new pear and the Migo® concept will offer added value to growers, retailers and consumers alike.”

GKE N.V. (a subsidiary of EFC cvba) has been the variety manager of the Kanzi® and Greenstar® concept apples since 2005, and has now added the Migo® concept pear to its portfolio. It holds worldwide exclusive licence rights for these brands. Its aim is for the production and marketing of these concept varieties to provide added value to all stakeholders, from growers to consumers.

Find out more about Migo® at

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The new purple asparagus variety Burgundine being trialled in UK

Sales of a new variety of asparagus that can also be eaten raw is being trialled by Tesco in the UK.

Tesco is trialling sales in in the UK of a new variety of asparagus – Burgundine – that can cooked or eaten raw.

In a press release, the supermarket chain said Burgundine is a purple and green cross and has been grown in Thornham, north Norfolk, specifically as a new salad crop. It could prove popular with office workers looking for a healthy lunchtime snack, it said.

The variety can be eaten raw after being washed because it contains slightly less lignim, the fibre element in asparagus. “The great thing about Burgundine asparagus is its versatility because it can be eaten both raw and also gently steamed or stir fried,” said Tesco produce buyer James Strathdee. “It is an eye-catching variety that is exceptionally sweet, juicy, crunchy and great for eating with dips and in salads.”

The British Asparagus season usually lasts from St George’s Day on April 21 until Midsummer’s Day on June 21, Tesco said. 

It said its finest Burgundine salad asparagus would on sale in 102 Tesco stores at £2 for 100g.


Source: Tesco press release