Smart Snacks, Smart Choices — From Monsanto Vegetable Seeds

By M. Ott 7/22/2010

Monsanto Vegetable Seeds responds to consumer demand and works to offer healthier product choices

According to the “Supermarket Guru”, Phil Lempert, one of America’s leading consumer trend watchers and analysts on consumer behavior, the top trend in the produce industry is to offer products that support a healthier lifestyle. However, he notes the only way this trend will take hold on a large scale is for people to increase their consumption of fresh produce.

“Running ads that say to eat five fruits and veggies a day is not enough,” Lempert said. “It hasn’t increased consumption any more. Doctors say nine servings are needed, and we can’t get above three.”

Lempert says that the key to motivating people to eat more fruits and vegetables is educating them on why five servings is important and then making it easy for them get these servings. Lempert recommends people involved in the produce industry talk to consumers and educate them about the benefits of a healthier lifestyle and the need to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. As more and more consumers aspire to these healthier lifestyles, the Monsanto Vegetable Seeds business is developing better connectivity with retailers to make sure it is focused on meeting consumers’ changing demands for better taste, higher nutritional value, and more convenience.

Working to Meet Consumer Demand
Monsanto’s vegetable seeds division is working to address the needs of the entire vegetable value chain, not only to enhance grower productivity, but also to develop products with enhanced nutrition and flavor.

Recent examples of products Monsanto has developed to meet consumer demand are Bellaverde broccoli, a sweet stem variety suitable for production in Europe and United States, and the EverMild onion, the first U.S.-grown sweet onion available during the off-season winter months.

“With the diversity of germplasm and marker-assisted breeding tools Monsanto has at its disposal, we equip growers with products that create value for them, efficiently use environmental resources, and offer high quality and taste,” Sekhar Boddupalli, Monsanto vegetable seed’s global consumer R-and-D lead, said. “Better-tasting and better-looking produce will encourage a higher consumption of vegetables, which will help lead to a better heath and wellness.”

Helping People Adopt a Healthier Lifestyle
According to research done by the University of California, only about one-quarter of U.S. adults eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Furthermore, this research estimates that, worldwide, 17.6 million children under the age of five are overweight.

“Calorie-rich, nutrient-poor diet and snacks are the major contributors to childhood obesity and, in fact, global diabetes and obesity,” Boddupalli said. “Fruits and vegetables are the best choice for the nutrient-rich, caloric-poor diet needed to address rising global diabetes, obesity, and heart health issues.

“But lack of taste and convenience—like snack-size or pre-cut offerings—are major factors hindering the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Innovations in the Monsanto vegetable seeds pipeline are designed to expand the availability of a variety of products available to consumers, making them more likely to find products they want to eat, which helps give them more choices to support their healthy lifestyle.”

Improving Taste, Convenience, and Nutrition
Included in Monsanto’s vegetable seeds R-and-D pipeline are:

  • broccoli with 2 to 3 times the phytonutrient glucoraphanin per serving compared to conventional broccoli
  • sweet green lettuce with more vitamins A and C
  • carrot varieties with different colors – including bright orange, red, purple and yellow – that offer color appeal to customers as well as key nutrients such as Vitamin A, lycopene, and anthocyanins.

“With much lower levels of off-flavors, colored carrots and improved lettuce offer real and noticeable benefits to people looking for healthy food options,” Boddupalli said. “Some additional products being developed by Monsanto to meet consumer demand include orange grape tomatoes, mini sweet peppers, mini cucumbers and melons. All these ‘smart snacks’ with improved taste and nutrition are great healthy choices and kids would love them.”