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FAO International Year of Fruit & Vegetables

International Year of Fruit & Vegetables

Fruit and vegetables come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Raw or cooked. Sweet or bitter. Soft, crunchy or pungent. All of them unique and special. Full of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Fruit and vegetables don’t just fill your plate, but they are part of a healthy diet. So it’s with good reason that the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations is putting fruit and vegetables firmly in the spotlight in 2021!

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Fruits and vegetables, your dietary essentials

This year, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is creating extra awareness of the importance of fruit and vegetables in human nutrition and health. Fruit and vegetables also play a key role in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

29 September - International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste

In order to increase the efficiency with which the world’s food is produced, distributed and consumed, it is essential to tackle food loss and waste. By exploring new pathways for vegetable development and innovation, Rijk Zwaan is opening up opportunities to address this issue. We share three examples. 

7 June - World Food Safety Day - Innovative vegetable varieties help to improve food safety

Access to sufficient quantities of safe and nutritious food is key to sustaining life and promoting good health everywhere, and Asia is no exception. Food safety is a major topic in the region but vegetables are produced on numerous small farms, making traceability difficult. Many countries in Asia lack an effective control system, which means that consumers cannot be sure whether the vegetables have been grown safely. Jos van der Knaap, Crop Coordinator Lettuce in Asia, explains how vegetable breeding contributes to the availability of safe and nutritious vegetables in Asia and beyond.

Fresh fruit and vegetables in the Middle East and North Africa

Rising temperatures, declining soil quality and the scarcity of fresh water are all challenges that will intensify for growers in the Middle East and North Africa over the coming decade. Abdullah Sa’sa, Rijk Zwaan Business Manager Middle East & North Africa, shares details of how vegetable varieties that are more resilient to those external factors can contribute to the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables – not only in the short term, but also in the longer term as the effects of climate change become increasingly apparent.

7 April - World Health Day - How to make vegetables more appealing

As vegetable breeding company we look for ways to make vegetables more appealing. We do so by combining our breeding expertise with sensory research and consumer research, and we also work together with chain partners. Annette Meeder, a taste researcher at Rijk Zwaan, shares four examples.

Seeds: the foundation of fruit and vegetables

Colour, flavour, shelf life, yield and resistances – all of these characteristics are contained in a tiny vegetable seed. What’s the secret? It’s a natural product, so it’s not as simple as mixing together a list of ingredients. It takes skilful vegetable breeding, at the start of the food chain.

Breeding: crossing and selecting varieties

As a vegetable breeding company we are continuously working to develop healthy and appealing vegetable varieties. Our aim is to breed vegetable varieties that meet as many needs as possible – the needs of growers, retailers and consumers. That is a complex challenge. Our breeders keep crossing and selecting vegetable varieties for as long as necessary until they have developed a variety that has all the desired traits. On average, this can take between 6 and 16 years.

Contribution to Sustainable Development Goals

To sustainably preserve our planet and ensure everyone has access to tasty, healthy and nutritious vegetables, we need to continually improve in the areas of cultivation, harvesting and processing. By breeding more robust varieties with better resistances, higher yield and improved shelf life, we contribute to more sustainable and efficient production and processing of vegetables. This is how we give meaning to our mission of sharing a healthy future.