Zucchiolo Vegetable Variety clinches FLIA Award, Mirical Packaging concept emerges victorious in FLIA technology category

Not one, but two awards were presented at Fruit Logistica for innovations in the fresh produce sector. In addition to the annual Fruit  Logistica Innovation Award (FLIA), which went to Unica Fresh for its Zucchiolo variety, this was the first time a prize was given honouring innovations in machinery and technology.

The Dutch company Koppert won the FLIA Technology for its new Mirical packaging concept. Five companies in each category contested the coveted awards with their innovations.

The Zucchiolo made the biggest impression on trade visitors at Fruit Logistica, who over two days voted for the coveted international award. Winning over half of the votes, the oval-shaped vegetable secured the top spot at the Fruit Logistica Innovation Awards. The Zucchiolo is not, as one might imagine, a new zucchini variety, but a vegetable representing a completely new product category on the European market.

What is remarkable about this 250-gramme product is that it can be consumed fresh and raw in a salad, similar to a cucumber, or cooked like a zucchini or eggplant. It is rich in fibres, vitamin A and C and anti-oxidants. The extraordinary vegetable is tasty, and at the same time revenues are being donated to charity. Fifty per cent of the sales income is going to social causes such as fighting cancer.

“The Innovation Awards of the Fruit Logistica are truly an honour. It’s a motivating push for all professionals in the industry to wake up every morning and pursue what we love most: adding value to our farmers’ crops”, says Andrea Álvarez, business development manager at Unica Fresh. “Developing new vegetables is challenging, but our goal is always to introduce nutritious and healthy products to society. I thank the entire ‘Zucchiolo’ value chain, from the geneticists to the marketing team to the farmers for their trust. Everyone pushed for this product to come on the market.”

The newly introduced FLIA Technology went to the Dutch company Koppert for its Mirical packaging concept. The Mirical (Macrolophus pygmaeus) predatory bug combats whitefly, which frequently infests greenhouse vegetables. Instead of using plastic, Koppert now supplies these predatory bugs in corrugated cardboard strips and a cardboard tray, which are both attached directly to the plants. As well as making the predatory bug more effective, Koppert’s packaging concept also means the product is fully compostable.

“Winning the FLIA technology is the true recognition of a year and a half hard work and shows how important biological pest control is. We are excited that our evolution with something simple such as cardboard strips gained the award. With our new packaging the predatory bugs are directly placed in the plants. Our innovation speeds up the introduction of the animals and is labour saving. We are very happy that Fruit Logistica gave us this great stage for our product,” says a delighted Tim Bossinga, product manager biologicals at Koppert.

The annual presentation of the Innovation Awards honours outstanding innovations from the entire value chain of fresh produce. A total of around 70 innovations were submitted, from which a panel of experts picked the five best ideas in each category. Trade visitors at Fruit Logistica 2024, which took place from 7 to 9 February 2024 in Berlin, then voted for their favourite product. A list of all the nominees can be found at Fruit Logistica.

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