iStem Creates Convenience for Cauliflower Growers and Consumers

Innovation Impact
iStem Highlight

The eat-it-all cauliflower is an easy transition for brassica growers around the world 

For the health-conscious consumer or anyone looking to add more vegetables to their diet, there’s a new, convenient option to consider. With a sweet, nutty taste, and a crunch you won’t forget, Syngenta’s iStem® cauliflower is ready for the taking. For growers, it provides familiarity and convenience for planting and harvesting. 

“Growers will find it’s similar to growing traditional cauliflower,” said Louis Stokes, Technical Sales Representative with Syngenta Vegetable Seeds. “It fits nicely into rotations if you’re growing standard cauliflower or broccoli. Its growth cycle is similar in timing, crop protection, and management when compared to a standard cauliflower.” 

First introduced in commercially 2021, iStem has received numerous awards for innovation and quality from various contests around the world, including Fruit Logistica’s Bronze Innovation Award.  

Cauliflower demand is growing around the world, from pizza crust to rice replacement consumers are clamoring for more. In 2016, the brassica hit more than $700 million in sales in the U.S. alone, according to Nielsen, and demand is growing. So, it’s important to find varieties that help meet that demand, while making cauliflower an easy choice. 

“We see a lot of potential for this product, especially in the convenience market where consumers are looking for something that’s quick and easy to cook,” said Lotfi Bani, Syngenta Key Account Manager, Food and Value Chain. “Consumers are looking for something different – something out-of-the-ordinary and iStem helps meet those expectations and give growers a new market to supply.” 

It’s a low-waste product, too. Because consumers can eat the stem and the leaves, it means there’s less waste in the field. This feature helps support a more sustainable future for the crop. 

Breeding Creates Opportunity 

Creating a new variety, including a new look to a crop, takes time and research. Syngenta breeders have been working with iStem for eight years to introduce and continue to improve the crop for growers.  

“It was a mixture of luck and smart breeders who saw an opportunity in iStem varieties,” Stokes said. “We were examining different types of cauliflower that were growing taller so they could be harvested mechanically. During that breeding program we discovered varieties with side shoots and realized this could be a great option for growers and consumers looking for a bite-sized cauliflower.” 

Right now, iStem is available in parts of Europe and has trials in South Africa. Consumers and growers can expect this product to grow around the world, with the U.S. next in line for trials for growers and consumers alike. Learn more about iStem here.

ⓒ 2022 Syngenta. Some or all of the varieties may be protected under one or more of the following: Plant Variety Protection, United States Plant Patents and/or Utility Patents and may not be propagated or reproduced without authorization. iStem® is a trademark of a Syngenta Group Company.