Supermarkets report surging sales of cheap 'super vegetable' championed by the likes of Jack Monroe, Gwyneth Paltrow and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
It's a cheap, home-grown "super vegetable" that retailers are predicting will be one of this year's hottest food trends after surging sales over the winter. It is now cool to eat kale, following the endorsement of chefs and celebrities including Gwyneth Palthrow who has popularised its use in "green" smoothies.
Marks & Spencer says sales of kale are already up a third (32%) on the same period last year and it expects this rise to continue in the longer term. In order to meet growing demand, the supermarket has boosted its range beyond the fresh, bagged vegetable and – not for the faint-hearted – is planning its own-brand kale crisps later in the year.
Super-nutritious kale is renowned for its health properties – as a good source of dietary fibre, iron and calcium – and supermarkets are expecting a further sales spike this week as new year diets officially kick in. Gram for gram, kale contains 17 times more Vitamin C than carrots. Shoppers who have traditionally enjoyed kale in home delivery boxes are now stocking up on it in their regular supermarket shops.
At Waitrose, sales of kale are up 20% year on year. Matthew King, Waitrose vegetable buyer, said: "Sales of kale are up by 81% week on week at Waitrose. It is becoming increasingly popular, with restaurants and celebrity interest catching customers' attention. Kale is seen as a great value, easy to prepare brassica and is becoming a weekly staple amongst our customers. One of the hardiest and most vitamin packed greens, it is full of minerals and because it's full of iron, has real taste."
The weather always influences shoppers' demand for kale, Sainsbury's said, and when it gets cold, sales typically leap by 30% year on year.
The product is championed by budget food blogger (and Guardian contributor) Jack Monroe, who has appeared this week for the first time fronting the supermarket's new national advertising campaign, which aims to reduce food waste. Other fans include Jamie Oliver and chef and Guardian writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Actor-turned-lifestyle guru Gwyneth Paltrow trumpets the ingredient in her detox "green juice".
Curly kale was one of the most popular vegetables in Europe before its star waned at the end of the middle ages. It enjoyed a brief resurgence during the second world war as planting was encouraged as part of the Dig for Victory campaign. Kale can grow all year round in the UK but is at its best between September and February.
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