One of the country's largest suppliers of produce to the catering industry is seeing 14 per cent growth in sales of bunched herbs, last month's British Herb Trades Association conference in Northampton heard (29 January).
Reynolds Catering Supplies commercial director Paul Collins said the growth outstrips that of the business as a whole, which is currently growing at 10 per cent a year.
"We see more herbs used than ever. Chefs want to add new and interesting flavours at reasonable cost," he said. "Restaurants dominate our market. Pizza Express has 480 and each will take a box of prepared parsley a day."
Overall, the main demand for the produce is for 100g bunches of fresh-cut herbs, with "slow-growing" demand for potted herbs, particularly basil, from restaurants, and also for "micro-herbs" such as cress in 30-40g punnets, used as garnishes.
"Our customers are very interested in where our products come from and it's part of our credibility to be able to supply that information," added Collins. "Our smaller customers may make a point of provenance and are also more likely to be concerned about seasonality."
Having grown out of a market stall in the East End of London, Reynolds now makes 3,500 deliveries every day from six depots and a national distribution centre in Hertfordshire. Fresh produce accounts for nearly half of its 4,000 product lines and it has long-term partnerships with suppliers and agrees prices for the season ahead.
British Herbs Trade association rebranded
The British Herb Trades Association will now be known as British Herbs. A new logo and website were launched at its conference.
The rebranding was overseen by R&G Fresh Herbs owner Mathew Prestwich. "We have realigned ourselves to ensure that we reach out to as many herb growers, suppliers and associate members as possible and we are now encouraging importers, consultants and centres of learning to get on board," he said.
The conference drew its highest attendance for many years, according to association chairman Nigel Stangroom.