Packaged in their own miniature greenhouses, pea shoots are young, tender tips of garden peas, said to have the same sweet taste as a pea but when plucked from their tray can be eaten uncooked like a salad leaf or steamed or sautéed. They are currently on sale in 30 Sainsbury branches, priced at £1.39.
West Sussex herb grower Humber VHB developed the product, including the packaging, for Sainsbury. Humber has been supplying the pea shoots to the food service industry for a year from its nursery in Angmering.
Marketing manager James
Seymour said that glasshouse production was year-round. However he revealed that the selected pea varieties, which take around a fortnight to germinate and reach the prescribed height for the pack,
had to be imported to ensure continuity. In the winter months glasshouses are fitted with artificial lights and heated to keep the young plants growing.
Seymour said that while production here was limited the crop was already recognised as a speciality vegetable in many parts of the world.
Sainsbury fresh produce buyer Clancy McMahon added: “The Hmongs, an Asian ethnic group, introduced the use of pea shoots throughout China, Japan and South East Asia.
“Today, pea shoots are a popular speciality vegetable in parts of Asia and Africa, and are quickly gaining popularity in the United States and Australasia.
“Peas are one of the nation’s favourite vegetables but can be quite tricky to eat. This means people can enjoy the taste of the pea with more meals than ever.”
Though Sainsbury is the first multiple to stock the pea shoots, The Grocer understands that they are not being grown exclusively for the company.