The growth of prepacked salads and increasing interest by the foodservice sector has lifted UK sales of French lambs lettuce from 500 tonnes to 700 tonnes last year, according to Pascal Poiron, marketing manager of the Loire Valley Comité Economique Fruits et Legumes.

The region is the single largest production region in France harvesting over 24,000 tonnes a year.

Its industry, supported by Sopexa, the national marketing organisation, turned its attention to the UK about a decade ago with limited success.

But Poiron and grower Olivier de Grandmaison believe there is the potential to eventually sell the equivalent of a punnet a week into every household.

The majority of the crop is packed in the UK as an integral part of the salad mix, but this in itself has helped give the crop a higher profile, says Poiron.