Autumn offers a dazzling array of seasonal vegetables
Consumers are more and more interested in sustainable vegetables that reflect the seasons! Supplies are plentiful and the autumn is the best time to (re)discover them. The range available is still expanding, and bringing new sales opportunities. The trade can rely on constant supplies up until February or March.
A new season also means some new faces in the range available. All sorts of forgotten vegetables are now in season: parsnips, parsley root, beetroot, turnips, salsify, Swiss chard and more. They offer super quality combined with glorious flavour. In the colder months, they offer a welcome change from the normal range of products on the shop floor. Customers themselves are looking for healthy products to build up their resistance, and there is more and more demand for superfoods.
There is a growing trend towards seasonal, local and sustainably grown vegetables, confirms Guy Jennes, who is in charge of outdoor vegetables at BelOrta.
We are seeing a noticeable interest in tubers: winter radish, turnips, Jerusalem artichoke and so on. Products like these are seriously trendy. They are also attracting great interest from the foodie sector, meaning that the dedicated vegetable-eater also wants to cook at home with more exclusive vegetables that fit neatly into the trend for sustainable living.
More volume and more flexibility
Growers are responding to this (niche) market, involving small outdoor crops which demand a great deal of expertise. An increase in the area planted, plus the increased attention from the growers themselves, have combined to deliver larger supplies. BelOrta is succeeding in consistently providing a constant volume on the clock; this guarantees the retail side fresh products every day and continuous availability.
Grading is by packaging type (loose or in bunches) and diameter. The standard arrangement is for these products to be packed in EPS-T in uniform length and thickness. Buyers also have the option of setting up contracts with the commercial service for a specific period, number of units per pack and non-standard type of packaging. Small packs can also be supplied on demand.
Lots of winter vegetables are enjoying a revival. The most diverse type of cabbages, such as kale, Chinese leaves, Savoy cabbage and kohlrabi are available at the moment. Demand for cabbage is extremely high right now, according to BelOrta. Kale is actually even a superfood. It is quite a sturdy winter vegetable. BelOrta is marketing this new vegetable in two colours: red and purple.
Flandria kale has intact leaves of a fresh green colour, with no signs of frost damage or soil. The cabbage or loose leaves are tidily presented and show no signs of wilting. Grading is by unit weight and the fineness of the curl in the leaf.
Parsnips: The area is on the increase. For the retail side, this has become a real classic, an essential part of the autumn range, according to BelOrta. Grading is by diameter and weight.
The fleshy, aromatic, sweet roots can be used in soups, sauces, salads, casseroles and stews, or served just as a hot vegetable.
Winter radish: winter radish has a milder flavour and is firmer and larger than an ordinary radish. Grading is by type (black or white forms), quality and diameter.
Jerusalem artichoke: this tastes different to a potato. The Jerusalem artichoke has a soft, sweet, slightly nutty taste. It can be boiled, steamed or prepared as a gratin.
Three colours of beets: beets are packed loose or in bunches. Grading is by diameter (small, medium and coarse), colour and packaging type. BelOrta sells three colours, red (with dark red flesh), yellow (with yellow flesh) and 'Chioggia' (red flesh with attractive rings of lighter red).
Salsify: these days, salsify is available almost all year round, but it is at its tastiest from autumn onwards. Supplies peak in November and December.
Turnips: kohlrabi is available from October to March. Grading is by diameter (small, medium and coarse), colour and packaging type. Turnips are packed loose or in bunches. Available in three colours: white all over (white-fleshed white), white with a purple collar (white flesh) and swedes (yellow flesh).
Culinary tip for customers: can be used in salads, stewed, steamed or mashed. Kohlrabi is particularly tasty when combined with fresh herbs or curry.
Swiss chard: Swiss chard is related to sugar beet, beetroot and fodder beet, but much tastier. The young leaves taste a bit like spinach, so it can be used for all your spinach recipes. Swiss chard comes in three colours. Buyers can either order the individual colours separately or buy a mix.
Parsley root: the roots are served as a green vegetable or used in soups and stews. The leaves can be used in the same way as parsley leaf.
New: palm tree cabbage
This winter, palm tree cabbage (Cavolo Nero) is available in the BelOrta range. This is a vegetable with a firm bite and a stronger flavour than ordinary kale. The leaf structure is comparable to spinach, and it is ideal for stir-fries or as the basis for a hearty soup.
Flandria tubers (winter radish, etc.) offer excellent quality, and are well shaped and well grown. They are firm, intact and free of tears, frost damage or internal woolliness.
A healthy remedy against the winter blues
All these seasonal vegetables are rich in fibre, calcium, potassium and iron, and a good source of vitamins: vitamins A and C boost the immune system, while vitamin B helps to convert carbohydrates into energy.
Great selling points
By providing information about nutritional values and advice on preparation, especially when it comes to seasonal vegetables, you can really make your store stand out from the crowd. The products themselves are so fantastic that they almost sell themselves, but friendly, expert service will certainly boost your sales figures.