A purple Kohlrabi being grown by Produce World

Produce World has announced plans to produce more ethnic varieties of vegetables.

Speaking at its field trials in Lincolnshire this week, Dara O’Doherty, NPD manager at Produce World, said the growth of the ethnic market was too big to ignore and confirmed that the vegetable producer is currently selling UK-grown quantities of the ethnic brassica kohlrabi, on a trial basis, across various supermarkets, including Waitrose.

She said: “I think there is potential to make kohlrabi more of a mainstream crop like it is in Germany as it is easy to grow and very versatile as it can be used in coleslaw, eaten raw or even mashed.'

Commonly used in India, and also popular in Germany, the cabbage has had its appearance likened to a “cross between a sputnik and the aliens from Toy Story,” by Matthew King, vegetable buyer at Waitrose. The retailer is currently selling limited quantities of kohlrabi in white and red, priced at £1.20 each.

“This quirky vegetable looks like it has come down in the recent meteor shower and landed on our shelves, but it's delicious grated raw in a coleslaw or used in a dauphinoise instead of potatoes and the crop of cartoon films out this summer with alien and monster characters should help children give it a try,” said King.

Meanwhile, another ethnic variety that has impressed at Produce World’s field trials is the Devil’s onion. Discovered by Andrew Burgess, head of agriculture at Produce World, during a recent trip to Japan, the spring onion can grow to the same size as a leek and has a fiery taste.“We are definitely looking at growing more of the Devil’s onion,” confirmed O’Doherty.

She concluded: “We are trying to increase our share in brassica vegetables so producing something with novelty value is key as it must stand out on the shelf. Whether that’s producing more colourful cabbages, kale or cauliflower, our new varieties and existing product development will reflect that.

“Hopefully the stuff we can put out within the next year will include more ethnic veg, and we are also definitely interested in producing more cabbages and brassicas that can be eaten like a lettuce or in salads.”

The latest Produce World trials will feature on the BBC Harvest programme, which will air on BBC Two in early September.