6 years ago

The Partnership no. 7

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Sweet pepper We can’t

Sweet pepper We can’t really speak of an official anniversary, but around fifty years ago sweet peppers started to tentatively but steadily cross the Italian border and sweep the West European market. Enza Zaden was quick to embrace the crop and contributed greatly to the roaring success of blocky peppers with several much talked-about hybrids. The past fifty years exports from the two leading cultivation areas – the Netherlands and Spain – have grown from less than five to more than 800 million kilos. And the world still offers ample growth potential, says market researcher Hans Verwegen. Enza Zaden aims to make the most of those growth opportunities on all continents with new product concepts and in close, market-oriented cooperation with chain partners. Marketing Fifty years ago hardly any sweet peppers were grown in Western Europe. In those early days the Netherlands was already the leading production country in that area, but the acreage was still a lot smaller than those of, say, Italy and Hungary, where this fruit vegetable was more common and more widely appreciated. 1965 was the first year in which more than a million kilos of sweet peppers were produced in the Netherlands. By 1972 that was already ten times as many. 1990 saw the 100 million-kilo milestone and 2003 that of 300 million kilos. “You can say that sweet peppers reached maturity in Europe in the 1990s,” says market researcher Hans Verwegen. “Ever more consumers came into contact with them in shops and restaurants, at friends’ homes and on holiday, and once you’ve tasted sweet peppers, whether raw, fried, stuffed or grilled, you want to keep eating them. Most of the consumers who never buy sweet peppers are elderly people. And as time goes by the number of those nonbuyers will rapidly decline.” Ideal fresh products Verwegen believes that the fast increase in the consumption of sweet peppers is to some extent associated with the increasing popularity of supermarkets as retail outlets in the last quarter of the last century. “Sweet peppers are ideal fresh products for supermarkets,” he explains. “They add colour to the shelves, look inviting and retain their fresh look for longer than leaf vegetables. Those are ideal characteristics for retail formulas focusing on selfservice and impulsive buying behaviour. So it’s not surprising that supermarkets enthusiastically included this product in their ranges in the 1980s.” The fact that the Spanish and Dutch seasons succeed one another means that sweet peppers are available all the year round, and especially in the winter months they were a welcome addition to the range of vegetables on offer in those early days. 50years young, still g(r)o(w)ing strong The Partnership | 27

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