We mostly know bean sprouts from the spring roll, wok and EHEC. Jelle Kuijper of Evers Specials talks about how the vegetable sprout has developed since 2011. Evers Specials is the biggest bean sprout producer in Europe. From Nijmegen, Jelle Kuijper and his team supply the sprout in an 800 kilometre radius. That limited radius has a reason. “If the bean sprouts are harvested today, it has to reach the customer tomorrow at the latest. Because of the limited shelf life, taking longer than two days to deliver is not an option,” Kuijper says. Freshness is important, because the sprout has been under scrutiny since the EHEC crisis of 2011.
Jelle Kuijper, Evers Specials.
Kuijper says the market for bean sprouts has completely bounced back. “In order to prevent a new outbreak, the entire food safety policy has been turned upside down. In Europe, rules and control have become much tighter. The FVO has just completed a new round of audits in 10 European countries.” The government and the sector have been able to get things done in China as a result of the EHEC crisis, that nobody would have been able to do on their own. Incidentally, Kuijper notes, it turned out bean sprouts didn’t have anything to do with the EHEC crisis.
Bean sprouts are used more and more in salads and Western dishes. Supermarkets often want the best before date on the packaging to be as far off as possible. Kuijper: “We’d rather not go along with postponing the date. We do, however, want to manage logistics in such a way that the bean sprouts reach the consumer as fresh as possible.” Bean sprouts are an Asian product, so it’s no wonder Asian restaurants are the biggest buyers. According to Kuijper, those restaurants are moving more towards a concept where the customer can determine their own portions. “It turns out that the customer uses a lot fewer bean sprouts than the average wok chef, going for meat and prawns instead. On the other hand, there’s a trend of more and more bean sprouts being used in Western cuisine. To replace pasta, for instance in the Taughetti recipe series, but also salads.”
Bean sprouts are not limited to a season, and are available year-round. At summer festivals, a Taughetti stand has been used to make consumers aware that bean sprouts can be used not only in the wok. “It can also be combined with other dishes. Pasta for instance. Taughetti is an extreme example of that. In this dish, bean sprouts really are the basis of the dish, a true ‘veggie’ shift, which is what everyone is looking for.”