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2 years ago

The Partnership no. 17

  • Text
  • Products
  • Growers
  • Variety
  • Breeding
  • Vegetables
  • Consumers
  • Varieties
  • Partnership
  • Zaden
  • Enza

Bitter-tasting compounds

Bitter-tasting compounds Speaking of flavour, we humans are programmed not to like bitter things, because bitter is nature’s signal that something is toxic. So, a bitter compound in plants is a defence mechanism against pest damage. After all, a plant can't run away to escape. Some crops, such as cucumbers, carrots and eggplants, have had the more bitter compound bred out of them. It is still present in other crops, such as endive, chicory and bitter melon. "If we were to breed out the bitter compound from endive, for example, we would end up with a vegetable that looks and tastes like lettuce and is just as susceptible to diseases as lettuce. Also, these bitter compounds can be beneficial for our health in low concentrations, such as found in most plants.” Glucosinolates Glucosinolates are natural bitter/pungent tasting metabolites that also protect plants against herbivores, fungi and bacteria. With their typical cabbage and mustard flavours, these substances are - in low concentrations - extremely healthy. In fact, currently, it is even thought that glucosinolates can protect the body against cancer. Broccoli is of particular interest in relation to cancer prevention. There are about 120 different natural glucosinolates. These compounds are not only found in broccoli but in all brassicas, such as Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous crops (cabbages). And if you cut up or chop cabbage, the glucosinolates are converted into sugars and the typical aroma of cabbage and mustard. Very useful for a crop that uses these compounds to protect itself against pest damage. Chillies Another compound with a typical flavour is capsaicin, a component that is mainly found in the placenta (or pith) of chilli peppers. This substance leaves a burning sensation in the mouth. That's how plants protect themselves from mammals and fungi. Nevertheless, the plant still needs a little help to spread its seeds. Birds are unaffected by capsaicin, so they have no problem eating the fruits and spread the seeds through their droppings. And what can capsaicin do for the human body? There is some evidence that it helps with weight loss and against nerve pain and certain cancers. Vitamins The best-known compounds are the vitamins. There are thirteen substances in the vitamin’s category, and we need them for many different processes in our body, such as growth, energy, organ function, etc. Exactly the same applies to plants; they too need vitamins to maintain these processes. There seems to be a link between the keeping qualities of crops and the vitamins they contain. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is also added to foods to prolong their shelf life. Fibre In addition to vitamins, fibre is often also listed in the nutritional information on product packaging. Leafy vegetables are particularly high in fibre, which is one of the building blocks of plants and gives them strength and structure. In humans, fibre mainly has a bulking effect but also fills our stomachs without piling on the calories, so it is ideal for people on a weightloss diet. Fibre also promotes good digestion and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. So many compounds with so many different functions for the plant. And they also make a substantial contribution to human health. By carrying out in-depth research, we are becoming increasingly aware of the positive effects certain compounds can have on us and how we can incorporate them into our breeding activities to make our products even better for the consumer and even more resilient to environmental influences. Global Supply Chain Cross functional Teamwork leads to success Marc Vogels, Vice President Global Logistics We all enjoy great tasting vegetables of excellent quality. Tasty cherry tomatoes, crispy iceberg lettuce and full flavour peppers, organic or conventional. All beautiful products our consumers expect to find in store. The world population is growing to 10 billion and climate change is becoming more evident. Therefore, the ability to deliver both healthy and sustainable vegetables as a key part of our nutrition is becoming very relevant. Developing new vegetable varieties which meet the needs of our growers, our consumers and our planet is thus key for Enza Zaden. Highly efficient farming techniques, organic seed production and no waste delivery chains are an integral part of our future, one where Enza Zaden’s global supply chain can make the difference. With the Seed Operations team, we are already supplying the seeds to our customers and growers to provide 460 million consumers with one of our 1200 vegetables every day. This involves seed production of around 30 crops in almost as many countries. Seeds are being upgraded in locations worldwide, undergo strict quality, purity and disease testing and are distributed through 45 subsidiaries. What’s the secret to success? Innovation is at the heart of Enza Zaden. The development and commercialization of new vegetable varieties requires close collaboration with our R&D, Marketing & Sales and Finance teams. In today’s world, economic and environmental sustainability need to go hand in hand. Knowing our customers and consumers and having our seeds ready for the right sowing conditions is important for our customers, for the global food chain and for Enza Zaden. We are working cross functionally to further strengthen our capabilities from initial screening to full scale commercial production. But we also strengthen the genetic purity testing and variety introduction planning together to meet this new vegetable supply chain challenge. Within Seed Operations we are constantly working to create the best quality seeds at the right cost: the right protocols for both conventional as organic productions, seed cleaning and upgrading techniques to optimize germination and purity levels and the best quality testing and phytosanitary controls for disease free seeds. The most important success factor, however, is teamwork with the spirit to succeed together. Effective cross functional teamwork across a global company is facilitated by work processes that ensure that the multi-crop and variety, multi-regional, multi-year planning are enabling the final daily order and delivery processes to serve our customers. Integrated Planning Entrepreneurship to win with our customers in each of our markets around the world requires a clear commercial and innovation strategy and a well-balanced sales portfolio. Strong seed Demand and Supply planning capability ensure efficient, on time delivery to our customers with minimal interruptions or waste. Building the right Planning capabilities ranging from longterm strategic planning for breakthrough innovation and production planning to short-term detailed scheduling for process and lab testing are important building blocks to manage our overall supply chain. Key challenges are increased speed of innovation and higher customer expectations in terms of delivery performance. Increased regulatory changes imply more constraints in moving live seeds across borders. Building the right flexibility into our supply chain and improvements to our lead times are therefore essential ingredients. I am convinced that with teamwork and the right cross functional collaboration we will succeed together! Marc Vogels works for Enza Zaden for 1,5 years. Prior, Marc has worked for Procter & Gamble and Mead Johnson infant nutrition as a leader in Supply Chain, Innovation and Operations. He believes that strong cross functional teamwork and building strong capabilities are key to deliver success. Besides making the work easier, it makes it more fun for everyone! Column 22 | The Partnership The Partnership | 23

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