Dorset salad supplier The Watercress Company has launched a new business to grow and sell fresh wasabi in a bid to open up a new market for its British-grown product.

The Watercress Company has been experimenting with growing wasabi in Britain for three years and has been selling fresh wasabi rhizomes to high-end restaurants for two months.

A website has now launched - - under The Wasabi Company England brand, from which chefs and online shoppers can order fresh British-grown wasabi. It has also set up a Twitter account.

The company was currently focusing on high-end restaurants and direct sales to the public because of the slow-growing nature and relative high value of the product, said Watercress Company product manager James Harper, though he would not rule out an eventual move into retail. “At the moment, that’s not the area we’re looking at, but who knows.”

Fresh wasabi is already available through Japanese supermarkets but availability was inconsistent, said Harper. Although wasabi pastes were available, they often contained very little wasabi and instead contained “horseradish and green dye,” he said.

The Wasabi Company currently sells wasabi for about £300 per kg, or 30p per gramme with a 50g-sized rhizome costing £15. If kept wrapped and moist, it will keep for about two weeks.

The launch comes as the popularity of wasabi as an ingredient in grocery products is growing. In May, Lindt launched a Lindt Excellence Dark Wasabi chocolate bar, which has listings in Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

There is increasing interest among retailers for stocking fresh exotic ingredients usually sold in ethnic stores. Morrisons sells fresh turmeric and galangal.