The packaged Vitalvegetables range was developed over a decade of trans-Tasman collaboration between Plant and Food Research in New Zealand and Australia’s Department of Primary Industries Victoria.
The first five products include salad mixes, a coleslaw mix and a vegetable medley.
More value for the grower
Jocelyn Eason, a scientist at Plant and Food New Zealand, told FoodNavigator-Asia that Vitalvegetables has been designed to provide a framework that will enable growers to move their industry towards differentiated, higher-value products that deliver health benefits to consumers.
“In essence, Vitalvegetables is a bold attempt to shift the Australasian vegetable market from a commodity to an added-value or health focus,” she said.
Eason said that the first phase of development established research principles and analytical methods for target vegetable crops.
“The second phase built on this platform of scientific capabilities, but focused more on developing and commercialising vegetable products that embody high-health functionality along with flavour and freshness,” she said.
A focus on health
Eason said that the products are serving a growing trend among consumers who want more information about the food they eat. They also want to target their diets to their particular requirements. “The range includes products high in nutrients specific for immunity, and bone, heart and sight health.”
Eason revealed that the first products are three salad mixes—one supporting heart health, one for bone health and the third to support healthy vision—as well as a slaw product and vegetable medley, both of which have nutrients supporting immunity.
“Each product has been designed to contain high levels of the nutrients known to support a specific health concern. The products have been tested to provide consistent year-round quality,” she remarked.
According to Eason, the initial response to the products has been positive, with consumers finding they like the taste. “This alone usually ensures repeat purchase. In addition, our clear consumer health messaging and ready-to-eat convenience have been well received.”
Eason added that it is too early to predict uptake as the products only hit New Zealand supermarket shelves this month, but they are optimistic this new value proposition will sit favorably with vegetable consumers.