The market’s annual Fruit and Vegetable Trends Report 2021 is based on qualitative trader insights from wholesalers who supply London restaurants including La Gavroche, Soho House and Sketch.
Rebecca Barrett, head of strategy, partnerships and communications for New Covent Garden Market, said: “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.
“These insights give us the inside scoop on what will be inspiring home cooks and appearing on menus across the UK once restaurants reopen. Whilst it has been a tough year for the market with long periods when restaurants have been closed, we’re delighted to see so many of our traders innovating and introducing the public to what is on offer through their box delivery services.
“With an abundance of sustainably produced British and international fruit and vegetables, New Covent Garden Market is fast becoming a mecca for home cooks.”
Fresh produce delivery boxes
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic home delivery services have become more popular so the traders believe the demand for fresh produce delivery boxes will continue to do well in 2021.
Jason Tanner, owner of New Covent Garden Market based Premier Fruits and also new business The Menu Partners, commented: “The demand for our service was incredible throughout the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and we decided to continue the offering, as many people were still enjoying our service which delivered fresh fruit and vegetables along with many other food products.
“The market is famed for offering the most covetable produce and when shoppers discover the weird and wonderful items they can get their hands on - the likes of puntarelle, chicory flowers, edible flowers of all varieties and sprout stems - these items will all become common place in the kitchen.”
Demand for ‘unique’ ingredients
With more food delivery options than ever before, comes the demand for ‘unique’ ingredients. Recipes with quince, celeriac and redcurrants are all peaking interest with customers at New Covent Garden Market.
New Covent Garden Market predicts that shoppers will look beyond the supermarket for their fruit and vegetables.
Medjoul dates are one item of particular interest as their versatile nature means they can be blended up and used a sugar or caramel replacement in vegan baking. Furthermore, bakers and home cooks are set to start incorporating citrus flavours such as clementine and yuzu into their recipes as they offer a more complex flavour than lemon.
Mangoes, pomegranate and sweet potatoes from North Western Europe are growing in popularity. Meanwhile, I.A. Harris & Sons cite that round pale aubergines are also becoming a popular request as their texture lends itself to a meat-like substitute.
New Covent Garden Market predicts the trend for plant-based dishes is showing no signs of slowing down. Broccoli, kale and spinach are predicted to be popular on the plate at home and in restaurants throughout 2021.
Hannah Turner from New Covent Garden Market’s Classic Veg Box, said: “Aside from meat alternatives, we’re seeing a rise in the hero vegetable. It’s great to see vegetables celebrated as the star of the dish rather than as a side or addition.
“With the focus on staying fit and healthy to ensure your body is fighting fit we've seen a surge in sales of a whole range of brassicas. 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.”
The traders at New Covent Garden Market have noticed a notable trend of customers asking where their produce has come from and whether it was produced sustainably.
Jenny Irvine from New Covent Garden Market based Balance Box, added: “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.”