June marks the beginning of the UK-grown Tenderstem broccoli season and, despite challenging circumstances, the forecast looks sunny for the leading brassica brand.
Tenderstem said that it had been working hard with licensees in the UK and overseas to ensure top quality, consistent supply throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sales for April 2020 were up 26 per cent year-to-date, even though coronavirus restrictions meant volumes in March and April were impacted by a reduction in demand from foodservice.
“The pandemic has caused concern for the UK’s fresh produce industry for a number of reasons, not least the impact it has had on the availability of skilled seasonal workers who pick and pack crops like Tenderstem broccoli throughout the summer," said Tenderstem marketing manager Lacey Bradshaw. "Knowing that this was a real concern for our growers we acted quickly to offer a recruitment support package harnessing the power of social media and PR to help growers recruit new people successfully.”
The PR-led initiative targeted local news media with a call for furloughed workers and other job seekers to consider a job working outdoors, safely physically distanced, harvesting UK-grown Tenderstem broccoli.
The impact was described as "considerable", with one grower reporting 1,000 applications following a local media call out for people to ‘pick for Britain’.
The UK Tenderstem broccoli crop will be in store from now until late autumn.
“April and May presented challenging conditions for our UK growers, with record-breaking sunshine hours and very low rainfall," explained Stuart Cox, managing director at Sakata, the seed specialist behind Tenderstem broccoli. "Fortunately, our experienced growers know how to manage these conditions and have been busy nurturing the crop and watering regularly.
"Growers have also observed that the warm conditions and long days the country has been experiencing have triggered rapid growth of the crop, in turn producing especially tender Tenderstem broccoli," Cox noted. "Prospects for July and beyond are looking good in terms of yield and product quality so we’re feeling very positive about the UK season which lies ahead.”
Bradshaw added: “In an exceptionally difficult period we have been reassured that consumer demand for Tenderstem broccoli is consistent and we’ll be continuing to provide recipe inspiration designed to help consumers enjoy a little adventure at mealtimes even if physical travel is off the agenda for a while.”