Could the humble radish be challenging the avocado as the trendiest food?
Suppliers say this is the result of their Instagram-friendly looks, new ways of cooking and serving them, and the UK’s prolonged period of warm weather, which has left family cooks looking for ways to liven up salads.
According to analysts at Kantar Worldpanel, which monitors food sales, 900,000 more UK households have bought radishes in the past 12 weeks.
Anthony Gardiner of G’s Fresh, the UK’s biggest supplier of radishes, said sales had risen 30% in the past three months. “It’s been strong since the start of the year, and really taken off in the last six weeks with the start of the UK season at the end of April.
“It’s an exciting time for radishes,” he added. “I don’t think we’ve ever sold so many. It could be the new avocado.”
Ed Griffiths, the strategic insight director at Kantar, said only 22% of the UK population currently bought radishes, compared with 36% for avocados, but he believed that could change. He put the rise of the radish down to several factors, including the increasing popularity of semi-vegetarian “flexitarian” eating and alternative ways of using them. Radishes have gone beyond salads and are now being steamed, sauteed, pickled, grilled, roasted and sliced into dishes like Korean rice bowls.
“The humble radish is popular for many reasons. Two-thirds of consumers eat them because they’re healthy.”
Andy Weir, at the salad grower Reynolds, where radish sales have risen by a third year-on-year, said mooli, also known as daikon or the oriental radish, was also selling well, helped by demand for fermented foods and Korean cuisine.
Nina Cooper, a food trends expert at the consultancy Dragon Rouge, said: “People want more spice in their food, which is compensatory if you are not having so much sugar and fat. Cayenne pepper and wasabi have also skyrocketed and radishes could be part of that.”
She said the trend for “grazing”, eating little and often, was also boosting sales, as radishes were small and easy to grab from the fridge or to eat with dip.
Cookery programmes were also making people want food that looks interesting, Cooper added. “The days of the ‘beige’ eating experience are long gone.”
But perhaps one of the biggest influences on radish consumption has been the weather. After a prolonged warm spell, people are looking for interesting foods to add to salads. Gardiner said: “It comes into its own after 10 days of really warm weather. That brings in customers who wouldn’t normally buy radishes.”