Scratch cooking boom has helped drive soaring demand for vegetables, says grower

Demand for vegetables has soared in the last year as more people cook meals from scratch during lockdown, a grower has said.

The popularity of veganism and plant-based events such as Meat Free Mondays and Veganuary have also contributed to the surge in sales of greens, according to Lincolnshire-based TH Clements.

The company, based near Boston, is one of the UK’s biggest growers of greens such as sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and spring greens and is a supplier to supermarket giant Tesco.

Tesco said that since the first lockdown in March last year, it has seen increases in its sales of vegetables against the previous year, with the highest increase in leeks, with demand up by more than 30%.

Vegetable harvest
Vegetable harvest

It has also seen increases in sales of: cabbage, up nearly 25%; broccoli, up 20%; sprouts, up 10%; kale, up 10%; and spinach, up nearly 10%.

TH Clements spokesman Richard Mowbray said: “In the last year, sales of greens have particularly soared and we are working with Tesco to manage the extra demand by planting more vegetables.

“Greens became part of the nation’s staple post-war meat-and-two-veg diet at school and at home but many kids loathed them because they were made to eat them for health reasons.

“Sales eventually dropped off when fast food outlets began emerging here in the 70s and never fully recovered.

“The good news is that greens are now at their most popular for ages and a big part of that boom is the scratch cooking and vegan booms that are currently taking place.”

Vegetable harvest
Vegetable harvest

Like Tesco, TH Clements is also seeing major increases in demand for vegetables, with the greatest increase for broccoli, up by more than 50%, followed by cabbage, up by 30%.

Tesco fresh vegetables buyer Ben Rowbotham said: “The popularity of greens is soaring right now and it’s down to a combination of the current plant-based revolution and lockdown which is giving people more time to cook from scratch and eat more healthily.

“Greens got their poor image from the post-war baby-boomer generation schoolchildren who generally loathed them as they were always being told to ‘eat their greens’ for health reasons.

“Unfortunately many people used to boil them to death so that you were left with unappetisingly tasteless vegetables swimming around in green water.

“Now, with today’s kitchen equipment, people can easily steam, stir fry and even microwave them to bring out the best flavour and preserve the goodness.”

Vegetable harvest
Vegetable harvest

In the last year, Tesco has seen demand for herbs and spices soar by more than 25% as more Britons take to picking up their recipe books and cook from scratch.