For about 10 years, Vincent Elegoet, manager of the company Saveurs du Bout du Monde, has been specializing in the market of the so-called “forgotten” vegetables. This gives him the experience to measure the consumers’ variable interest for old vegetables. “Some of those vegetables have become more popular, like the parsnip or the Jerusalem artichoke,” says Vincent Elegoet. The demand has been growing in recent years in France, but also for export to Italy, Spain, Belgium and Great-Britain. “Even in the Netherlands, they import Breton parsnip!”
As Vincent notes, however, a vegetable may have been “forgotten” in France, but not necessarily abroad. A country’s culture and culinary traditions have a strong influence on consumption patterns.
According to Vincent, there is enough supply today to meet the growing demand. “We are able to provide large volumes of some old vegetables like the black radish, the Jerusalem artichoke, the parsnip or the rutabaga. And I don’t think that the demand for those products is growing very significantly yet. I would qualify the current market as mature.”
As a consequence of the increasing supply and the development of several production basins in France, Vincent observes a decline in prices over the past two or three years.
“There didn’t use to be promotional offers but now, we see discounts for black radish, or parsnip for example, in large supermarkets.”
Passionate about the terroir and constantly on the lookout for new flavors, Vincent always tries to surprise his clients. “I am continuously searching for some niche products. We try to bring color, diversity and originality to our offer.”
“At the moment, we have potato varieties which are very rustic and colorful,” elaborates Vincent, in reference to the Mulberry Beauty, a variety whose pink flesh promises to be a charming asset for the upcoming Valentine’s Day!
Finally, Vincent also turns to other horizons: “We are looking into South America. We are very interested in the Andean tuber. We already have some oxalis tuberosa from Peru and some yacón, a tuber with interesting properties. Come back to see us in the future for some other interesting finds!”