Seed supplier launches microgreens and speciality leaves to target foodie market

CN Seeds has unveiled new-to-market products targeting chefs and foodies demanding more speciality salad plants.

Basil, Maggie - image: CN Seeds
Basil, Maggie - image: CN Seeds

Pot basil will be among the latest additions from the seed specialist for salads and vegetables based in Ely, Cambridgeshire.

Also new are products targeting growing demand among both consumers and chefs for speciality leaf salads and microgreens.

CN Seeds head of business development Charles Seddon said: "Our original company focus on herbs is still important and we are giving product development in this sector serious attention."

New CN Seeds introductions in the herb category include the company’s recent pot basil additions, Maggie – a compact Genovese type with good uniformity and shelf life.

Another newbie is the quicker maturing winter variety CN 5033, which has still to be named, said Seddon.

"There’s more interest in speciality leaf – the stuff chefs use to garnish and decorate dishes, with unusual material like Oyster leaf, Ice Plant and Orach now being grown on larger scale."

He could not define the size of the market but said the sale of chilli peppers continued surprise him, while more chefs, restaurants and consumers wanted unusual flavours.

"I thought chilli peppers would be a fashion bubble that would burst in 18 months, but they're still here and there's an element of bragging rights down the pub that we're doing so well.

"Meanwhile speciality leaves and microgreens reflect more desire from chefs, cooks and diners for more unusual flavours than those not always found in herb jars.

"It's not about the song and dance of the first sale but how solid are the repeat sales. For microgreens we are seeing a lot of repeat sales and new customers, big and small players including restaurants, many of which are making their own growing areas."

He explained that microgreens, an increasingly important part of CN Seeds’ range, were essentially conventional products harvested at a very early stage.

The resulting miniature versions have more concentrated taste and provide chefs with the opportunity to dress their dishes with complementary flavours and colours.

Seddon added the company was also working with leafy salads, babyleaf and squash, and would be highlighting new material in each category at the Fruit Logistica show in Berlin in February.

As well as other core products of leafy salads and squash, Seddon said that CN Seeds would show chilli peppers and tomato seeds it distributes as part of a recent agreement with Gourmet Genetics.

CN Seeds will mark 10 years as an exhibitor at the Logistica trade fair by highlighting products boasting quality and uniformity improvements in culinary herbs such as parsley, oregano and sorrel.

It will also use the event to show off the granting of plant breeders rights to the slow-bolting, large glossy-leaved Coriander Cruiser.

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