(UPDATED COVERAGE, June 26) Dole Fresh Vegetables, through a five-year collaboration with Monsanto’s seed division, is developing products aimed at specific traits preferred by consumers.

The companies plan to focus on breeding new varieties of broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and spinach.

Nutrition, flavor, color, texture, taste and aroma are key factors in the research, said Marty Ordman, vice president of marketing and communications for Dole Food Co., Westlake Village, Calif., the world’s largest producer and marketer of fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. The company’s vegetable division is in Monterey, Calif.

Ordman said Dole, which discussed the partnership with Monsanto for about a year, plans to market the vegetables, grown by Dole or through contracts with other growers under its own label in North America. Ordman said if any vegetables become commercially available they will be sold to all of Dole’s customers.

Ordman said the four vegetables were chosen because they represent Dole’s largest commodities.

Dole has a wealth of consumer data and research it brings to the partnership, Ordman said. Though the research isn’t focused on any specific finding in Dole’s consumer information, taste, texture and flavor are common areas consumers focus on, Ordman said.

“Part of our mission is to improve the nutritional value of those products,” Ordman said.

Longtime Monsanto customer

Riddhi Trivedi-St. Clair, spokeswoman for Monsanto Co., St. Louis, said Dole is a longtime customer of Monsanto and Monsanto-owned Seminis Vegetable Seed.

Monsanto launched its vegetable segment, Monsanto Vegetables, with the purchase of Seminis Vegetable Seeds Inc., the world’s largest developer, grower and marketer of vegetable and fruit seed, three years ago.

“Dole has a full understanding of the vegetable market, and Monsanto has a very strong breeding program,” Trivedi-St.Clair said.

The aim of the research partnership, Trivedi-St. Clair said, is to develop vegetables that are more appealing to consumers and help increase the consumption of vegetables.

Trivedi-St. Clair said it’s unknown when vegetables developed through the research would be commercially available.

Monsanto’s vegetable seed division has three segments to focus on greenhouses and other protected cultures, open field growing, and a smaller, regionally focused segment.