Leaders at supermarket chain Tesco say that a windfall of Tenderstem broccoli from their UK grower will mean the healthy, succulent vegetable will be in stores through Christmas.
Hertfordshire-based AS Green is sending 40 tonnes to the retailer as demand has soared for this dinner complement. Typically, the season runs from June to November.
“It’s very rare indeed to get UK grown Tenderstem broccoli for Christmas,” says Tesco specialty vegetable buyer James Malham. “Over the last few years we’ve seen a real increase in shoppers buying it during the festive period and it’s now considered a treat to join carrots, parsnips, cauliflower and roasties on the Christmas dinner table.”
Because of interest from consumers, AS Green has shifted its production to Cornwall to help fill gaps in growing.
“This is the start of a three- to four-year trial and we are still learning as we go but the early signs have been very good,” says Caroline Green of AS Green. “We decided to grow in Cornwall as it has a warmer climate with milder night-time temperatures and a better growing soil for this crop. In the past we’ve been able to grow it until Nov 20, but our aim was to reach Christmas. We put a lot of science into picking the right site in order to make this happen.”
Shopping for this vegetable has increased more than 40% over the past year compared with broccoli itself, which has seen growth of about 10%. Typically, Tesco would have to bring it in from Africa or Spain to keep shelves stocked, so this will be significant cost savings plus maintain a local presence.
Tesco is selling Tenderstem for £1.50 for a 200g pack and £2.25 for a 330g pack.