UK asparagus hits shop shelves

A relative newcomer to asparagus supply has beaten off the experts to get the first UK produce onto supermarket shelves - four weeks ahead of the vegetable's traditional supply window.

Lewis: no premium was placed on early glass-grown asparagus. Credit: Worcester Standard/Ben Dalby
Lewis: no premium was placed on early glass-grown asparagus. Credit: Worcester Standard/Ben Dalby

S&A Produce is entering its third season of commercial asparagus production, growing on 58ha in Herefordshire. To ensure it was the first to get product into supermarkets, the grower/packer acquired 3ha of glasshouse space in Great Witley, Worcestershire, to extend the season.

The first asparagus batch went into Tesco's Evesham store on 21 February and it has since been supplied to other stores in the area.

Representative Craig Lewis said: "Our glass-grown asparagus has generated a lot of interest from retailers. We believe we are the first to grow this way in the UK. The glass-grown produce will take us through to mid-April, when field-grown produce will replace it."

Such an early product is likely to fetch a premium in stores but Lewis said the asparagus was pitched much the same as field-grown produce. "No premium has been placed on the product. I think it's more important to be proud of getting British-grown produce on the shelves early."

An unofficial race has developed between UK growers in the past few years to try to get the first British product to stores. Last year New Farm, in Suffolk, won the race to supply Co-op stores, carrying out its first cutting on 10 March.


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