ORLANDO, Fla. — A better broccoli will soon hit retail shelves, Apio Inc. and Monsanto believe.
Representatives of the companies on Oct. 16 introduced Beneforté broccoli at Apio’s booth at the Fresh Summit show. Apio plans to ship the broccoli during the first quarter of 2011, according to Ron Midyett, chief executive officer of Apio, Guadalupe, Calif.
The variety is a cross between traditional varieties and a wild variety of broccoli that was found some years ago in southern Italy. Midyett said the wild variety has a higher nutrition content.
Beneforté is a trademark Seminis Vegetable Seeds Inc. Monsanto owns Seminis.
Midyett said Beneforté would have a limited volume rollout in the first quarter of 2011, primarily driven by seed availability.
“As seed quantities come up to speed, we will be able to expand our offerings,” he said.
The variety boosts the body’s antioxidant glucoraphanin enzyme levels at least two times more compared with other leading broccoli varieties, he said, and that enzyme in turn boosts other antioxidants in the body.
Beneforté broccoli is the result of a multi-year effort in collaboration with Apio and Monsanto, Midyett said.
David Stark, Monsanto’s vice president of consumer benefits, said the St. Louis, Mo.-based company was thrilled to work with Apio and produce the first of what he hopes to be a long line of better-tasting and more nutritious produce. He said the inroads in improved nutrition may help move the demand for fruits and vegetables.
“It is long road for us, but our objective is to bring flavor and nutrition back to produce so that people enjoy eating healthy foods,” he said.
Stark said most of the nutrition research on the wild variety was done by a United Kingdom scientist. Monsanto did much of the work in creating a cross that was acceptable to consumer expectations, he said.
Stark said Monsanto is comfortable that everything the companies claim about the variety can be backed up with strong science.
“The science of this is really good,” he said. “It is not an antioxidant; it is better because it makes the antioxidants you have last a lot longer.”