- Episode 05 Broccoli
Episode 05 Broccoli
Boasts more than 50% of the world-wide market share of seeds
Broccoli, like cabbage, is a Brassicacease, which is thought to originate from the Mediterranean coastal region. It was first grown as a vegetable in the Roman Empire and then spread throughout Europe in the middle ages. Compared with cabbage and cauliflower, it was a relatively minor vegetable.
Broccoli was first seriously commercialized not in Europe, but in California in the USA. Italian immigrants who had been broccoli producers back home, started harvesting it seriously in 1923. Thereafter, it spread throughout European and Asian countries as a result of American army personnel remaining in those areas after World War II. It first started spreading in Japan in the latter half of 1960s. Thus, it is a relatively new vegetable.
Sakata's highest selling seed in the world is broccoli. Although broccoli is still an "emerging" vegetable in the world, it occupies more than 50% of the world wide market share. The history of broccoli cultivation began when the F1 hybrid premature Green Duke variety, part of the open pollinated variety common in the USA, was announced in the early 1970s.
The quality of the Green Duke head was markedly superior to that of the traditional varieties. In addition, consistent harvesting time reduced the number of trips to the field for harvesting by less than half.
Low temperature distribution was adopted, and widespread refrigeration around the same time further contributed to expanding production. The spread of this variety enables production on a large scale.
Approximately 20 years ago, a large vegetable producing company in the USA displayed a sign at their building entrance with the following slogan: "We grew up thanks to Green Duke seeds." In the 1980s, due to the sales of mid season varieties such as Shogun and Marathon, Sakata's broccoli market share reached up to 80%.
In 1980, production was stabilized by the domestic distribution of the relatively easy to cultivate "Ryokurei" variety. In addition, the quality of "Ryokutei," which was first sold in 1989, was improved leading to further increase in consumption. Thanks to Pixel, which was announced in 2001, hitherto unfeasible high temperature phase cultivation became possible, and despite the increase in the import of fruits and vegetables from the USA and China, domestic production further expanded. Although the acrage of vegetables in general declined markedly these days, broccoli acrage continues to grow.
The consumption of broccoli has increased because of its health promoting properties. In the USA, where colon cancer rates are high, the demand for broccoli increased dramatically after research findings regarding broccoli's high vitamin C content were released.
Moreover, recent findings have shown the presence of the cancer suppressing sulforaphane and glucosinolate in broccoli, which has led to further growth in demand, not only in the USA. This can be seen by the increasing capability of Chinese distribution networks of supplying fresh broccoli to the Chinese market and the fact that broccoli is well matched to Chinese cuisine.
How much broccoli do you eat per year? Including frozen broccoli, the Japanese eat 1.4kg per person, per year. Compared with the Americans' consumption of 3.9kg and that of the English of 4kg, this is a relatively small amount. The broccoli season is from fall through winter.
Therefore, do not hesitate and visit your greengrocer to buy broccoli to supplement your diet.