June marks the beginning of the UK-grown Tenderstem® broccoli season and despite challenging circumstances, the forecast looks sunny for the leading brassica brand, which has 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% year-to-date, even though coronavirus restrictions meant volumes in March and April were impacted by a reduction in demand from food service.
Tenderstem® marketing manager Lacey Bradshaw says: “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. 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 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.
Stuart Cox, managing director at Sakata, the seed specialists behind Tenderstem® broccoli, said: “April and May presented challenging conditions for our UK growers, with record-breaking sunshine hours and very low rainfall. 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. 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.”
Lacey Bradshaw continued: “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.”