Kalettes 'slow to take off' in U.S. despite widespread interest
The U.S. launch of Kalettes a few months came with a huge amount of media attention and consumer interest, but while the superfood looks set for a strong future it seems the vegetable hybrid has been relatively slow to take off.
A marketing representative of Tozer Seeds U.S. told www.freshfruitportal.com it was still very early days to give a full assessment of how everything had been going.
"Truly we don't even have a full year of growing under our belt yet. [The producers] are really just now learning how the plant grows, learning the best conditions for it, leaning timing on everything," Golden Sun Marketing's Lisa Friedrich said.
"So we're still in somewhat of a trial process but we do know that they've ordered seeds, so we know that they're planning on continuing to plant and grow Kalettes.
"Obviously there's been a huge amount of consumer attention from the media for the product so we feel really confident that the demand will be out there, we're just ramping up on the supply side really."
She added that from a PR perspective, there had not been a product before for which there had been so many inquiries without pitching the product first.
Kalettes are sold various different retail stores throughout different parts of the U.S., including Trader Joes in stores nationwide - where they are sold as Kale Sprouts - Costco in Greater Seattle and Los Angeles, and Wegman's in New York.
In October this year, Tozer Seeds UK announced an exclusive agreement with six U.S. companies to grow and market its kale and Brussels sprouts hybrid, including 4Earth Farms, Ocean Mist Farms, and Mann Packing.
A representative of Mann Packing said while she was optimistic the product would gain traction in the future, it was taking some time initially to work out the best growing techniques and to establish a solid market foothold.
"It's been a long time waiting because it's such a long crop. Unfortunately we haven't gotten a lot of help because no one's grown it yet," director of healthy culinary innovation Gina Nucci.
"All these agreements came through but no one had done trials in the U.S. before, so we're kind of learning by complete trial and error.
"It's been fine, but just been a bit time-consuming because we don't know how it relates – they only grow it seasonally in the U.K."
Given the small volumes at present the company was focusing on the food service industry, but thus far the product had been 'slow to take off'.
The U.K. perspective
Across the Atlantic, things were looking much more positive.
Kalettes are known as Flower Sprouts in the rest of the world, and were launched by Tozer Seeds UK in 2010 to high-end retailer Marks & Spencer's, and are now also sold in Waitrose, Sainsbury's and the Co-Op.
They are also sold elsewhere in Europe, including parts of Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland.
"We're expecting to be in every major retailer in the U.K. this time next year," Tozer Seeds UK sales director David Rogers said.
"So it's picking up very nicely in the U.K., and in Europe as well. It's still early days but it's progressing very well."
He added the company was really pleased with the level of interest the product had received in the U.S. so far.
"We felt that the U.S. was always going to be a good market because kale itself was already really popular over there so we thought that they would really welcome another kale-type product," Rogers said.
Tozer Seeds UK is now looking to sell the product in France and Italy, with development work going on in South Africa and Australia, and some sales in New Zealand.
An announcement will also be made at next year's Fruit Logistica regarding a partnership with a marketing company to promote the product in Europe.
Photo: Kalettes Facebook Page