Sainsbury's has recently unveiled the UK's first Vegetable Butcher in its Wandsworth superstore, South West London.
Working with vegetable expert and artist Amber Locke, the new service aims to show customers there's no limit to the ways vegetables can be incorporated into everyday meals, and encourage them to make the most of their favourites from 'root to tip'.
Following a year on year surge in Sainsbury's vegetable sales - with avocado (147%), asparagus spears (118%), broccoli (40%), courgettes (30%) and bunched beetroot (25%) leading the way, Sainsbury's is opening the innovative veg counter to customers on a trial basis until Saturday 18th June.
Vegetables are becoming more central to British eating with over two thirds (68%)* of households now enjoying at least one vegetarian meal a week – even if they are meat eaters. Families are also increasingly replacing carbohydrates with on-trend vegetable alternatives, with new Sainsbury's products "courgetti" (courgette spaghetti) and "boodles" (butternut squash noodles) exceeding expectations by selling an average of nearly 30,000 units per week since their launch in January 2016.
Inspired by the rise in nose to tail eating and the expert knife skills found in traditional butchers, The Vegetable Butcher will allow customers to discover new ways to prepare classics such as carrots, broccoli and cucumbers whilst also inspiring them to try less familiar veg including beetroot and parsnip.
The Vegetable Butcher will be using more than six different techniques to prepare veg including ribbon cut, spiralised, mandolin sliced, wave-cut and julienne. Customers can buy their favourite loose vegetables, then take them to the counter for a preparation of their choice (or to be inspired by a new way to cook and enjoy them) at no additional cost.
Amber Locke, who is manning The Vegetable Butcher, says: "I've been trying to use vegetables in an exciting and inspiring way for years but I know it's new for a lot of people who are used to the traditional ways of cutting up and cooking courgette, carrot and broccoli. I have a passion for showing people how fun and delicious vegetables can be and, more importantly, how you can avoid wasting parts of them that may seem unusable."
British shoppers (62%) are now buying a larger variety of vegetables than they did five years ago – due to understanding more about the health benefits of different vegetables (44%) and being more likely to consider vegetables as the main part of a meal (28%). Over 20% are even inspired by chefs and restaurants serving interesting vegetable dishes that they want to recreate at home. Of those who have bought at least one new variety of vegetable this year, sweet potato (40%), kale (36%), avocado (19%) and asparagus (19%) top their choices.
For more vegetable inspiration, you can visit Sainsbury's 'homemade' website here.