(Web Editor’s note: This article features extended coverage of a story we first posted on the site on Oct. 3)

(Oct. 6, 11:04 a.m.) Enza Zaden, a Netherlands-based seed company, plans to introduce a green bell pepper it claims to be the sweetest on the market at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in Orlando, Fla.

The SweetGreen pepper’s American debut will also be its world debut, said Arnold Reijers, business development manager for Enza Zaden.

“The American interest and potential we see first,” Reijers said. “In the American market, the green blocky type still dominates.”

Reijers said green bell peppers do not have nearly as much demand as other colors in Europe and other parts of the world.

The greenhouse-grown pepper is different from a normal green bell pepper in many ways, he said. It has higher natural sugar content — at least one level of brix higher than a regular green bell pepper.

“We didn’t expect that, but it was very good results,” Reijers said.

The pepper is also picked at maturity and maintains its green color. Most green bell peppers are just immature red peppers that get sweeter as they mature and turn red.

Three growers in the Leamington, Ontario, area are producing this pepper, Reijers said. Meanwhile, commercial field trials have begun in Mexico and should be ready for harvest by November. Reijers said field trials in Canada started taking place three years ago.

“The Canadian growers are the initiators of the Mexican SweetGreen pepper,” Reijers said, referring to the new Mexican growing program for this variety. “They want to be able to supply year-round.”

Reijers’ hope for this pepper is for it to eventually be a main variety included in the stoplight packages of bell peppers, which feature one each of the red, green and yellow varieties.

“With the stoplight, it never turns from green to red, so you won’t ever end up with two reds and a yellow,” Reijers said.

Reijers said the next step is developing a SweetGreen variety for the open field, although that won’t be ready for several years.

Sweet green bell pepper debuting at Fresh Summit
Enza Zaden, Enkhuizen, Netherlands, says its SweetGreen greenhouse-grown pepper should be in stores beginning in March 2009.

Courtesy The Perishables Group