New Covent Garden Market, where more than 100 wholesale traders supply fresh fruit and vegetables to some of London’s top eateries, is predicting a comeback for vegetables such as kale, cabbage, and broccoli in 2021, as well as shift to more local and seasonal produce among consumers.
The food market’s annual Fruit and Vegetable Trends Report 2021 is based on qualitative trader insights from its wholesalers, who supply London’s most fashionable restaurants – including La Gavroche, Sketch, Soho House, Jikoni, Darjeeling Kitchen, Restaurant Story, Pho and more.
Vegetables are set to take centre stage like never before
The market says this makes them absolute experts on the very latest culinary produce trends, akin to sommeliers of the fruit and vegetable world.
The trend for plant-based dishes is also showing no signs of slowing down this year, according to New Covent Garden. Vegetables are set to take centre stage like never before, claimed Hannah Tuner from Classic Veg Box.
“Aside from meat alternatives, we’re seeing a rise in the hero vegetable,” she said. “It’s great to see vegetables celebrated as the star of the dish rather than as a side or addition.
According to Turner, it’s brassicas in particular which are stealing the limelight. “With the focus on staying healthy to ensure your body is fighting fit, we’ve seen a surge in sales of a whole range of brassicas.
A notable trend of consumers questioning where their produce has come from
“Consumers are consciously adding a lot more leafy greens to their diet, whether it be the main event, part of a dish, or as a snack, in the bid for a healthier lifestyle,” she added. As broccoli, kale and spinach bounce back from their stint as smoothie ingredients, Covent Garden claims it expects to see more green on the plate at home and in restaurants in 2021.
With vegetables firmly on the menu, provenance will be key and the traders at New Covent Garden Market say they have experienced a notable trend of consumers questioning where their produce has come from and whether it has been produced sustainably.
Echoing many of the other traders, Jenny Irvine from New Covent Garden Market-based Balance Box said: “We expect people to eat more British fruit and veg and seasonal eating as prices increase due to Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had its own impacts on the global supply of fresh produce”.
One of the top seasonal highlights for chefs has always been British asparagus season, which Hannah from Classic Veg Box predicts home cooks will rejoice in now that they able to get their hands on this sought-after ingredient from the same suppliers who count Hawksmoor, Stanleys and Ormer Mayfair as customers.
Aside from conjuring up recipe ideas and providing inspiration, analysing these trends has a very real use, as Rebecca Barrett, Head of Strategy, Partnerships, and Communication at New Covent Garden Market explained.
“It’s always interesting to see what chefs and grocers are asking the market traders for but this year it’s particularly exciting to see what consumers are choosing for their home delivery boxes,” she said.
“These insights give us the inside scoop on what will be inspiring home cooks and appearing on menus across the UK once restaurants reopen.”