Germany-based seed and crop solutions company Bayer hopes to make its mark on the growing convenience foods market with the new snacking vegetable brand ‘Minigustos’.
Bayer produce chain manager for EuMEA, Carin Stroeken, said the new brand would first be for a special cucumber variety developed in-house, and may later be applied to other snacking concepts like coloured carrots or tomatoes.
“The fact you put the brand name on it, it stands for something. You make a promise with a brand,” Stroeken told PBUK during industry event Fruit Logistica in Berlin.
“Snacking is becoming more than indulgence snacking, like having a craving for something, because the behaviour of younger people especially is changing.
“Instead of having three meals a day – breakfast, lunch, dinner – people tend to slip into having five or six smaller meals a day.”
Hans Driessen, who is a produce chain specialist at Bayer subsidiary Nunhems Netherlands, said the aim of the new product was to improve upon existing snacking cucumber assortments in a way that would benefit consumers.
“While it’s important to know about yield and resistance, it’s about how can we attract the consumer to eat more healthy snacks and get them to buy them again?” he asked.
“So we invested in snacking cucumbers with better taste, and this variety is sweeter than the existing cucumbers in the market and the crunchiness is also appealing to the consumer.
“We did consumer research in Germany with GfK (Association for Consumer Research) and 70% of consumers also confirmed the crunchiness and sweetness was more appealing to them than the benchmark of other varieties in the market.”
Bayer CropScience vegetable seeds marketing specialist Anne Jancic added the group also developed its own packaging to improve the cucumbers’ postharvest performance.
“Next to the taste and crunchiness that’s related to the brand, we also wanted to increase the shelf life so that also benefits the retailers and in the end consumers,” Jancic said.
“So in the last year we’ve been trying different packaging, including paper boxes or macro-hole packaging and some others, and in the end we chose this special packaging as it has micro-perforation.
“You cannot see the holes because they are so small, but they are regulating the airflow into the package and into the package. This has been scientifically researched especially for cucumbers so they can still can breathe and they are not going to dry out,” she said.
Jancic added the special bags extended shelf life by four or five days.
“But these cucumbers are still fresh and crunchy after two weeks even.”
She said in its initial stages Germany would be the main market for ‘Minigustos’.
“We also have on the agenda other German-speaking countries like Switzerland and Austria, and probably also the Benelux countries.
“And with the extended shelf life we even see possibilities to export to Scandinavia and the U.K.
“We are already starting now in the NAFTA region so we have now our first trials and the first partners in Canada and Mexico for the U.S. consumer market, and we’re also trying to pick it up now in Australia where we have some requests for that, and probably even in China. It’s our goal to launch worldwide not only for cucumbers but others.”
The cucumbers are mainly grown in Spain, but Driessen emphasised they could be produced in other areas.
In other news, Bayer is still awaiting regulatory approvals of a proposed US$66 billion takeover of U.S. chemical and seed giant Monsanto.