Increasing demand for fresh herbs in southern Europe is expected to boost the business of UK vegetable seed company CN Seeds in Spain and other Mediterranean markets over the coming year, with listings by major retailers predicted to be "only a matter of months away", according to the company.
Following it’s successful appearance as an exhibitor at the recent Fruit Attraction trade fair, which was held in Madrid, Spain from 15-17 October, CN Seeds has reported an encouraging interest from Spanish growers in both the potted and fresh cut herb sectors.
Fresh cut herbs have traditionally been a strong export item for Spanish growers, but the domestic market is also increasing.
Speaking on his return to the UK, CN Seeds’ Operations Director, Dan Nye, predicted that the market for potted herbs would expand beyond northern Europe over the coming months, driven by increasing consumer demand for fresh herbs.
“We are seeing that the market for potted herbs is growing and becoming more important and not just in northern Europe, but also in countries like Spain," he said. "Demand for pot coriander is increasing rapidly, although basil and parsley remain the biggest sellers by volume.
“We also expect volumes of chive and dill to increase although these remain more regional sellers," he noted.
CN Seeds has seen strong demand for its new compact basil variety, CN 5023, which exhibits many of the characteristics required by growers – an attractive mid-green colour, a thick leaf and a very neat plant habit which enables the product to be sleeved and transported with minimal handling damage.
In coriander, the new introduction Cruiser has been widely acclaimed, performing well in both field crop and pot trials.
“The variety has very short internodes, which is great for pot herb growers, but also allows field producers to grow a more manageable crop, and reduces the labour required for bunching,” explained Nye. Slow bolting and a dark green leaf complete the variety’s attractive appearance.
Another product showcased by CN Seeds that attracted the attention of visitors to the company’s stand at Fruit Attraction was Babyleaf kale; a sweet-tasting product that has made a big impact in the UK and North America over the past 12 months.
Easy to cook in two minutes, Babyleaf kale – a so-called superfood – has already proved to be a success in North America and the UK and looks likely to replicate its positive impact across continental Europe.
According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Database, just 100g of cooked Babyleaf kale can deliver 681 micrograms of Vitamin A.
Babyleaf kale and potted herbs are just two of a range of products that have helped boost export growth for CN Seeds over the last 12 months.
As well as being driven by increasing sales of Babyleaf kale, herbs and oriental vegetable seeds, Nye believes the growth is a result of CN Seeds’ ongoing investment in breeding, with new product development a key commitment for the company.