In the Netherlands, Staay-Van Rijn has had Flower Sprouts available since week 46. "We receive these daily fresh products from our Dutch grower in our RijnStar packaging," says salesman Johan Wiersma. The Flower Sprouts are available at Staay Food Group from the beginning of November to the end of February.
New vegetables aren't introduced every day. But, in 2010, Flower Sprouts were such a novelty. It's a natural cross between a Brussels Sprout and curly kale. Staay-Van Rijn saw opportunities in this relatively unknown winter vegetable at an early stage. This is the seventh season that the company has included it in its assortment.
Flower Sprouts are also known as Kalettes. They became popular in 2011. This vegetable was nominated as The Best New Variety in the United Kingdom. "They combine Brussels Sprouts' small size and distinctive flavor with kale's mild flavor. Flower sprouts also contain double the amount of vitamins B6 and C than regular Brussel Sprouts. The term 'superfood' is therefore often used, for good reason, for this winter vegetable."
"Not many companies supply this product on the market. So, we now consider ourselves specialists of this relatively new vegetable," says Johan. "Our grower has a six-hectare area of Flower Sprouts. So, we have a nice volume at our disposal. He started picking by hand in mid-October. From week 45, the Flower Sprouts will be harvested mechanically. We sell these vegetables at seasonal prices."
"These Flower Sprouts are better known in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland than in the Netherlands," adds Wiersma. "Our hospitality-related clients like them. Supermarkets are still sticking to the 'unknown means unloved' idea for now. But I'm convinced that will change. Chefs are increasingly promoting this vegetable."
In Europe, the hospitality industry is presently in lockdown. You would expect this product's sales perspective to have taken a nosedive. Johan is, however, still hopeful. "During the first lockdown in March, certain clients sometimes didn't order for weeks. By now, many have found alternative income-streams. These include deliveries and take-aways. Volumes may be a bit lower, but they're ordering frequently again," he concludes.