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Rare British-grown veg set for Christmas dinner tables

A Herefordshire farmer has produced extremely rare out of season UK grown Tenderstem® broccoli in time for Christmas.

Usually the UK season ends in November but now the grower, AS Green, has produced 40 tonnes exclusively for Tesco - enough to last until Christmas.

The launch, this week, should please UK shoppers as demand for Tenderstem® broccoli during the festive season soars by around 45 per cent on a regular shopping week.

The move will bring about a sustainability benefit as it means that the supermarket won’t have to import during this time from Kenya or Spain where it is usually imported from when the UK season ends.

Tenderstem® broccoli is enjoying strong growth with demand at Tesco growing by 40 per cent year on year. Demand for regular broccoli is currently growing annually at around 10 per cent.

Tesco Speciality Vegetables buyer James Malham said:

“It’s very rare indeed to get UK grown Tenderstem® broccoli for Christmas.

“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. 

“People love it because it’s easy to prepare plus it’s packed with goodness.

“As a result of that demand our grower has pulled out all the stops to get us the UK grown variety and has switched production to the warmer Cornwall micro-climate in order to do so.”

The British growing season for Tenderstem® broccoli, which is considered a superfood on account of its richness in nutrients, vitamins and minerals, runs from the second week of June until early November.

Growers AS Green, who are based near Malvern, grew the crop at their site near St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall.

The coup was achieved through a combination of carefully measured growing techniques and using the Gulf Stream which passes across Cornwall. The mild autumn this year has also helped.

Caroline Green, of AS Green, said:

“We also grow Tenderstem® broccoli at our main site in Herefordshire but have rented land in Cornwall in order to try and extend the British growing season which we’ve achieved this year.

“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.

“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.

“Our aim now is to try and extend the Tenderstem® season so we can grow from May right through till Christmas.”

The Cornwall grown Tenderstem® broccoli goes on sale at Tesco stores across the UK this week and will cost £1.50 for a 200g pack and £2.25 for a 330g pack.

ENDS 

Note to editors:

Tenderstem® broccoli, which has a registered trademark, is a natural hybrid of regular broccoli and kale. This produces a vegetable with a particularly sweet tender stem allowing it to be very unique in taste while being packed with goodness. 

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