UK sales up 20% for beetroot in four years following superfood claims

Published: 4 May 2014

Following decades of decline, beetroot sales are rising sharply and farmers have had to dramatically increase their planting to meet demand. It has even achieved superfood status, after scientists claimed beetroot juice is capable of boosting athletic performance and can help treat high blood pressure. 
Retail analysts Kantar suggest total sales of the vegetable are up by 20 percent in four years, while Tesco reports sales of beetroot juice have surged by 50 percent in just one year. 
Tesco beetroot buyer Ravi Patel: 'For years younger customers associated beetroot with the pickled variety that was enjoyed by their grandparents but all that has changed now. These days beetroot has become known as a super food and its popularity has grown to record levels in the last four years. There has been a lot of publicity about its health benefits, especially in helping to lower blood pressure and this has helped boost demand. Perhaps the greatest coup of all has been crafty parents getting their children to like it by juicing it and adding it into delicious fruit and vegetable smoothies.' 
On the back of the current sales surge more beetroot growers who have never previously grown the vegetable before are now planning to grow it. 
The UK's biggest producers, Gs, based in Ely, Cambridgeshire, have increased production by 50 per cent in the last five years and is selling more than 47 million packs of the vegetable in raw or shredded form a year. The firm is also making a major move into selling beetroot juice as a sports drink following scientific evidence of improved performance among athletes. 
Beetroot is a good source of iron and folate or folic acid, while it also contains nitrates, betalaine, magnesium and other antioxidants, which are important in preventing cancer. It is particularly rich in nitrates, which is converted to nitric oxide in the body and is understood to lead to a modest reduction in blood pressure. 
Research published last year found the high nitrate levels in beetroot juice resulted in 'moderate improvements' in exercise performance, while a 2010 study suggested the juice may increase blood flow to certain areas of the brain. 
Courtesy of Fresh Plaza 

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