Taking a page from the Tasti-Lee branded tomato playbook, Bejo Seeds Inc. plans to begin marketing a pointy-headed cabbage under the brand name SweetHeart Lettage.
The Oceano, Calif.-based seed company introduced the variety as well as accompanying marketing tools at the recent Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in Anaheim, Calif.
“We had a lot of people really interested in this between this show and Quebec,” says Michael Ryshouwer, field marketing manager based in Monticello, Fla.
In October, greenhouses were growing transplants that will be put in the ground in late fall. The first crop is expected to hit the markets in early spring.
Lettage is a pointy headed variety of cabbage that’s been grown and marketed in Europe for decades. There, residents recognize it for the sweet, mild flavor and crisper, less leathery leaves, he says.
“It’s very well known in Germany and Holland, but over here it’s something that’s brand new,” Ryshouwer says.
Because it is a cabbage, Lettage has significantly more nutrients — including vitamins C and K — than lettuce, which has almost zero, he says.
But unlike most cabbage varieties, Lettage has to be babied in the field to produce marketable conical heads that have adequate shelf life.
Bejo has designed a cone-shaped plastic cup in which to market single, roughly 1.5-pound heads. The cups will be covered with a transparent plastic sleeve to maintain appearance and shelf life, Ryshouwer says.
“You can actually stand it up on the shelf so people can really see it,” he says. “People don’t know what it is or are not familiar with its shape.”
To solve that, Bejo plans to use peel-off labels, which include recipes and nutritional information, as well as retail signage. Consumers also can visit the Lettage website for additional uses and recipe ideas.
“In Europe, they’re used to it and they just shrink-wrap it and sell it at the stores,” Ryshouwer says. “Here, because people are not aware of it, we had to come up with something that tells them.”
Unlike the Tasti-Lee marketing program that also included retail display bins, the Lettage program won’t include the bins because the cabbage needs refrigeration, he says.
Foodservice buyers—including restaurants—also have shown interest in the cabbage.