Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 December 2010
In this study, the focus is on babyleaf products and the potentials that an increased interest in these products might bring to vegetable seed growers. Case studies on babyleaf products illustrate how consumers perceive babyleaf products and which parameters they give preference to. In addition, aspects of preference for local vegetable products were investigated. The methodological approach has been in the form of two questionnaires presented to consumers in two different chain structures, an industrialized chain (linking actors from ‘farm to fork’) and an alternative chain where organic produce is delivered to the consumers' doorstep through a box-scheme concept. The participants in the surveys were selected to identify elements that potentially could be used as a spur in innovation and development of new products in the chain and not necessarily to indicate general consumer interests. The overall conclusions are a genuine interest in babyleaf products in both approached chains. In the industrialized chain, 89% of the respondents would like more products and subsequently new niches within seed production are likely to occur. In the alternative chain, 83% of the respondents were very content with the babyleaf product they had received. In addition, these consumers display a profound preference for local products. The paper proposes that seeds and the quality of the seeds play an important role in babyleaf production and should be viewed as, not just a raw material in the chain, but also as the initial step in the babyleaf chain. Dialog among the actors in the chain is essential to meet the consumer demands from both a conventional and an organic perspective. The role of organic seed in organic vegetable productions is discussed.