In addition to its new Extra Veggie salads, Dole Fresh Vegetables plans to roll out a line of specialty lettuces in two-chamber clamshells at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit in Atlanta.
Dole Hand Picked Selections will come in two combinations. One offers red butter and green butter whole heads; the other, green butter and green oak.
Consumers will see both on shelves in the first quarter of 2012. “Likely as early as February,” said Ronda Reed, vice president of marketing. The company expects the line to grow beyond the initial offering.
The baby-leaf lettuce varieties have been selling in Europe for a few years, Reed said, but are new to the U.S. and Canada. Dole marketing materials for Hand Picked Selections will feature the phrase “One Cut, One Bite.”
“The one-cut, one-bite feature is an inherent trait of this new variety,” Reed said. “Salad fans need only to cut the core once, wash and arrange the leaves for a designer-worthy creation befitting the most elegant dinner party.”
Dole is aiming at a niche market somewhere between traditional lettuce heads and pre-cut blends.
The variety combinations were chosen with complementary tastes and textures in mind, Reed said. Red butter, for example, is sweet and nutty, while green oak has a tangy taste. Packaging will include flavor and texture descriptions for each lettuce variety, nutritional information and storage tips.
Dole plans to tout nutritional benefits that include vitamins A and C.
Dole developed the varieties in partnership with Rijk Zwaan Company. Seed developer Rijk Zwaan has more than 850 varieties of vegetable crops, Reed said.
To source Hand Picked Selections, Dole has expanded acreage with its current growers, Reed said.