Greg Johnson, Editor
Greg Johnson, Editor

Two of the trendiest vegetables right now are kale and brussels sprouts.

Think how hot a product could be if it merged the two.

Well, someone has, but it’s a story more confusing than it ought to be.

England-based Tozer Seeds has been working on a non-GMO cross of the two for more than 15 years, much longer than kale and brussels sprouts have enamored foodies.

“We had no crystal ball 15 years ago,” said Kraig Kuykendall, sales manager for Tozer Seeds America. He said the company is fortunate both vegetables have gotten popular.

Tozer won a third place innovation award for it at the 2013 Fruit Logistica in Berlin.

Are you starting to wonder what this product is called?

Flower sprout is what won in Berlin. It’s also called kale sprout, Kalette, brusselkale, Lollipop, kale multicolor and a few others.

That’s a problem.

Tozer works with Golden Sun Marketing in the U.S., and it just submitted a Price-Look Up application in July under the name kale sprouts.

Don Goodwin, owner of Minnetrista, Minn.-based Golden Sun, said he expects to hear back on the application sometime in October, and he said the new PLU number could be in the market sometime next year.

Golden Sun also has developed a brand name of Kalettes, to be used by certain Tozer kale sprout seed customers.

The list of growers is not public yet, but Mann Packing Co. promoted the item at the recent PMA Foodservice Expo in Monterey, Calif.

One company who will not promote kale sprouts as Kalettes is Salad Savoy, who markets the product under its own brand, Lollipop.

Salad Savoy president John Moore said his company first started growing kale sprouts in the spring of 2012, and the first harvest was October that year.

He said companies that are marketing kale sprouts this year as a new product aren’t being truthful since his company has marketed it for two years.

We at The Packer know the definition of “new” is fairly flexible when it comes to new products, so one can have a reasonable argument that something can be new within a year or two.

Moore also has a problem with the availability of seeds from Tozer, which makes this story even stickier.

He said Tozer has an exclusive seed being sold to licensed growers and marketers who will use the Kalettes brand.

He wants access to that seed through his normal supplier, Johnny’s Select Seeds, without paying a premium. He says he can’t get it.

That’s true specifically, but not generically.

That’s also confusing, so let me explain it the way Dan Alger of Johnny’s did for me.

The original kale sprout seeds from Tozer were called the kaleidoscope mix, which included green, red and bicolor leaves.

Salad Savoy buys these red and bicolor seeds from Johnny’s, both Moore and Alger confirm, to produce Lollipop brand kale sprouts.

Tozer also sells seeds with updated genetics that are just bicolor for Kalette brand growers.

Moore doesn’t buy these seeds.

“To a consumer, they look the same,” said Lisa Friedrich of Golden Sun. “Kalettes are just a newer generation of the seed.”

It’s definitely messy, and it’s tempting to think it’s causing all sorts of bad feelings, but it’s really not.

There’s some frustration, but all these people either continue to work together or will rely on each other to grow kale sprouts in the market.

That market is looking up.

Golden Sun’s Friedrich said she’s talked to a number of food and women’s magazines this summer, and she expects to see stories on Kalettes and kale sprouts in late summer and fall issues.

As grower-shippers become known for shipping Kalette brand kale sprouts, expect strong promotion in the trade.

Also, once a PLU is established, the product will increasingly be known as kale sprouts rather than all the other monikers, and then brand names such as Kalettes and Lollipops can find their spot in the marketplace.

It’s trendy. It’s cute. It’s a nutritional superfood.

It ought to succeed.

gjohnson@thepacker.com

What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.