Feb 24, 2012
Social networking site caters to salad lovers

Salad enthusiasts now have a social networking site of their own called Love My Salad, an online destination that allows salad consumers to connect with fellow enthusiasts around the world. The website is one of the first to target produce consumers and professionals and offers an opportunity for salad lovers to share recipes and ideas while increasing produce consumption in the process.

Australian associates of Rijk Zwaan, a European seed developer specializing in produce seed, developed the site in 2010. The creators had a love for vegetables and salad and saw an opportunity to share that love with salad enthusiasts the world over.

“Rijk Zwaan decided to initiate Love My Salad, an international, interactive platform where consumers and professionals come together to inspire each other with their passion for salad,” said Auke Ferwerda, Rijk Zwaan manager for marketing and business development. “With the use of social media (sites like) Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, we hope to stimulate other salad lovers to join the social salad network.”

Love My Salad was created with the consumer in mind, who can use the website to not only connect with fellow salad lovers but as a source of information. The site features a recipe page where consumers can explore new tastes with exotic salads from virtually every continent, and they can also share their own salads with fellow consumers and find new twists to old favorites.

The site also boasts a “Salapedia,” an in-depth educational page with information on virtually every salad vegetable, as well as tips on selection, preparation, serving and storage. Salapedia additionally offers a section devoted to healthy eating in the salad category, encouraging consumers to post articles about health and wellness in vegetables.

“(Consumers) can engage in discussions about topics such as types, tastes and recipes, inspiring one another and ultimately stimulating the global consumption of vegetables,” Ferwerda said.

But consumers also have a page to connect directly with fellow salad lovers. Through the “Salad Lovers” page, consumers can discuss everything they love about salad, and vegetables make new “friends” through social networking sites like Facebook. Growers, too, have a page dedicated to them, where they can discuss their operations and receive feedback from consumers they can use for their operations.

Although the site is relatively new, there are already more than 3,000 “Likes” through Facebook. That is good news for growers around the world who stand to benefit from that increased interest, as well as processors who make many of those salads available.

“At Love My Salad, we ask consumers and professionals to contribute to an increase in vegetable consumption,” Ferwerda said. “By sharing ideas, news, stories and giving feedback, salad lovers spread their enthusiasm around the world. We hope and we think we can inspire others to put vegetables on the menu more often.”

Rijk Zwaan does not wholly own love My Salad, though the company has had a hand in the development of the site from the beginning. As the site improves and gains more popularity and acceptance within the salad community, Love My Salad may see more independence from Rijk Zwaan.

“The coordination of the development of Lovemysalad.com is being done by Rijk Zwaan in the Netherlands. In the near future, it will be possible that Love My Salad will operate more and more as an independent salad lover’s community,” Ferwerda said.

Rijk Zwaan is a developer in the international seed market, specializing in breeding innovations into new produce varieties. The company dates back to 1924, when it opened its doors as a seed supplier in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The company’s first breeding and seed production facilities opened in 1932, and it made its initial move into international markets when it opened a new facility in Germany.

Headquarters for Rijk Zwaan is located in De Lier, in a region dominated by greenhouse production. Much of the company’s research is performed in greenhouses around the world, with facilities on nearly every continent and seed sales in more than 100 countries. Rijk Zwaan’s breeding programs focus on many traits, including color, flavor and shelf life, but the company also creates varieties that minimize waste during processing and increase marketing presentation for retail outlets.

One example is the trademarked Salanova lettuce variety, which is bred to fall apart with the first cut, reducing processing time and minimizing damage during cutting. A cantaloupe variety trademarked as Caribbean has an improved shelf life, but also a smoother, thinner skin and smaller seed cavity that has already proven popular with processors.

The ultimate goal of Love My Salad is for consumers to share a love for salad with people around the world who are equally excited by produce. But the developers are hoping that excitement is followed by an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption that will benefit the entire industry.

“It gives all of us the possibility to interact with consumers: To inspire people to eat more vegetables, listen to their feedback and to teach us how we can play into the wishes of consumers,” Ferwerda said. “All players in the vegetable chain will be able to benefit from Love my Salad, including Rijk Zwaan.”

By Everett Brazil III, VGN Correspondent

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