480 million meals featured sprouts last year

40% of sprouts are eaten on a Sunday

More than a half of meals with sprouts feature carrots

Poultry is the top meat eaten with sprouts

Health is a growing reason for choosing to eat sprouts

A versatile vegetable with a healthy future

More than half of sprouts are eaten in winter and they are perceived as a Christmas vegetable. As this is a time when families get together, it's a good opportunity to encourage new and lapsed consumers to eat sprouts. The stereotype that children hate sprouts is borne out by data showing they eat fewer than one in 10 of meals featuring them, while over-45s account for 62%.

Consumption on Sundays has increased 13% since last year. With close links to Sunday lunch, sprouts will regularly feature alongside other vegetables (58% of the time with carrots; 19% with peas; 16% with cauliflower). They are rarely considered the main vegetable in a meal. Poultry is eaten most often with sprouts (29% of meal occasions), but beef (18%), pork (14%) and lamb (10%) also feature.

Sprouts also have an opportunity to expand into new (weekday) occasions if their versatility as a vegetable can be got across to consumers. Stir fries, soup, stews, coleslaw and curries represent potential opportunities for sprouts.

Nearly half (40%) of sprouts, which are high in vitamin C, are consumed for health reasons and this proportion is growing (up 12% year-on-year, faster than for all vegetables). They are also thought to contain compounds that may prevent cancer. Chris Ponton