The story of Luciana

‘KnoxTM can bring many benefits to consumers and the entire fresh produce chain’

In 2016, the Brazilian vegetable processing company La Vita Alimentos from Holambra trialled iceberg and romaine lettuce varieties containing the KnoxTM trait, comparing them against standard varieties. The findings were clear-cut: even after 14 days, the Knox varieties showed hardly any signs of oxidation. Coordinator of Innovation Luciana Amaro Rodrigues is very enthusiastic about the results.

Strict quality standards

To bring quality, health and convenience to the table of every Brazilian consumer – that’s the aim of La Vita Alimentos, which has facilities in Holambra (São Paulo) and Andradas (Minas Gerais). The vegetable producing and processing company’s products include packed Salanova® and cherry tomatoes, bags of mixed lettuce leaves and fresh-cut pumpkin, kale, white cabbage, parsley and carrots. Among its customer base are grocery retailers such as Walmart and Pão de Açucar as well as foodservice chains such as Pizza Hut and Subway.

Quality is a top priority for La Vita Alimentos, above all through an approach based on efficiency and innovation. The whole process is subject to strict standards so that consumers are always assured of receiving the freshest and healthiest product possible. Not surprisingly, the company was immediately keen to run trials with Knox lettuce varieties. “We are always keen to contribute to the development of the vegetable segment, which is why we participated with Rijk Zwaan in this research project. Knox can bring many benefits, both to consumers and the whole chain,” comments Luciana Amaro Rodrigues.

Evaluating lettuce after washing and cutting

She explains how the study was performed: “The usual shelf life for fresh-cut lettuce in Brazil is seven days. For this research project, we monitored the lettuce for twice as long as that, i.e. 14 days. The objective was to evaluate whether, after sanitisation and slicing, leaves of iceberg and romaine lettuce with the Knox trait oxidise less quickly than other varieties. We stored the samples at an average temperature of 4°C.”

“After 14 days, the samples of romaine lettuce with Knox were significantly less wilted than the control group and showed only mild oxidation, while the control samples were quite oxidised and unfit for consumption. The difference was even greater in the case of iceberg lettuce: with a 14-day shelf life, the samples with Knox did not show any sign of oxidation, whereas the control samples were quite discoloured and wilted.”

Higher quality

Luciana Amaro Rodrigues is enthusiastic about the results of the study. “We’re very excited because, in addition to other process improvements, these Knox varieties can lead to improved quality in Brazil and a longer shelf life for our products. That will help us to reach European and US standards.”