Manel González. Journalist
Wiki Spanish Food interviews the head of Sakata Seed Ibérica, Javier Bernabeu, who tells us about the very favorable reception of its star product, Bimi, among consumers.
Manel González.- Your vegetable, Bimii, was one of the main attractions of the latest edition of Madrid Fusión. What has the food industry's response been?
Javier Bernabeu.- Bimi is becoming a star vegetable and, as expected, a star wouldn't go unnoticed in an event as important as Madrid Fusión. Bimi adds versatility to haute cuisine, as it allows chefs like Martín Berasategui and Rodrigo de la Calle to use it in many different recipes, and it can be combined with all kinds of ingredients, from more sophisticated to everyday items. It also adds functionality to traditional home cooking. You don't have to waste your time making french fries or any other side dish. All you have to do is grill some Bimi florets for 3 or 4 minutes and you have the perfect side to the very best meat or fish.
M.G.- Tell us about it. What makes it special? What properties make it an ideal part of a healthy diet?
J.B.- In my opinion, eating healthy is a combination of three elements. Of course, the first has to do with the characteristics of the food we eat, and Bimi stands out as it's rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with, in some cases, twice that of broccoli, which is a "close relative". The second element has to do with the flavor and the satisfaction of eating something that's pleasant, something we like to eat because it makes us feel good. Bimi stands out for its pleasant flavor and tenderness. Maybe not everyone can eat it raw, which is more nutritious, but they can eat it slightly cooked so it maintains almost all of its nutritional properties. The third element has to do with preparation. Bimi stands out because it is simple and easy to prepare, and is very practical and can be ready to eat in minutes.
M.G.- What is Bimi's status in terms of distribution? What actions are planned for 2016?
J. B.- Little by little, Bimi is making a space for itself on Spanish supermarket shelves. It's not easy, as there is enormous competition in terms of the variety of new products available. It's currently available in supermarkets such as Makro, El Corte Inglés, Consum, Alcampo… and we hope that it becomes available in other stores over time.
The main challenge for a product that's a novel as this is the lack of knowledge on the part of the consumer. We realized that we have to explain what Bimi is, or better yet, how to eat it. As a result, our actions are focused on tastings at points-of-sale and workshops where consumers can learn how to prepare it.
M.G.- Broadly speaking, how has broccoli consumption performed in Spain in recent years?
J.B.- Like in the rest of the world, broccoli consumption is Spain is constantly on the rise. It's not easy to determine to what degree though as every year a larger area is dedicated to growing broccoli, and the weather is the main factor affecting how much is available at any given time. Another way of looking at the change in consumption is in terms of the availability of the product on supermarket shelves and the space allocated for each product and where it is. Although it's imperceptible on a day-to-day basis, if we look back in time, we see there's a major difference between the current situation and the situation just 5 or 6 years ago.
M. G.- Bimi is an original product developed by an original company. What led Sakata to adopt its current philosophy?
J. B.- It's not easy to create new products that add value to our diet. Man has been growing his own food and adapting products to his needs and preferences for more than 10,000 years. But Bimi is a great example of what you can do when you have good ideas and strong objectives.
As part of our philosophy, Sakata aims to produce new varieties of vegetables which help improve our wellbeing. That's what drives the company and its employees. Bimi is the result of those efforts: an easily distinguishable vegetable which reflects innovation in terms of the way it looks and the nutrients we get from eating it.
M. G.- What are Sakata's main research projects at present?
J. B.- You could say we have many research projects on at the moment in search of new products, that's what all of the company's efforts to improve are all about. Sakata has always been an innovative company, and that's because its improvement programs not only seek out new varieties similar to those that currently exist, but they give priority to the fact that they may be groundbreaking in some way, helping improve consumers' diets.