Tesco reveals celeriac sheds ugly image to become one of fastest-rising UK-grown veggies

It’s one of the ugliest of all vegetables with its wild, straggly roots but right now celeriac is becoming one of the coolest names to drop in foodie circles.

That’s great news for Lincolnshire-based grower Jack Buck Farms who are the largest celeriac grower in Europe and who are planting 50% more than they did just five years ago as a result of growing demand.

And Tesco are also seeing soaring demand with shoppers now buying one million pieces of celeriac a year – something that would have seemed unthinkable 10 years ago.

According to recent data from market analysts Kantar (Dec 2022), demand for celeriac has rocketed by 41% since 2018.

The current boom is a direct result of the plant-based food revolution which has seen celebrity chefs such as Yotam Ottolenghi, Jamie Oliver and Mary Berry and popular TV programmes like Ready Steady Chef and Saturday Kitchen increasingly feature celeriac in recipes.

The root vegetable is also very nutritious and counts as one of our five a day, is high in fibre and is low in fat and calories so it ticks quite a few health boxes too.

Tesco vegetable buyer Emily Hampson said, 'The plant-based food revolution has created a great era of culinary experimentation and as a result once niche British-grown vegetables such as oyster mushrooms and celeriac are now taking centre stage in wonderful tasting recipes.

“In the past, celeriac sales have been held back because the vegetable isn’t particularly visually appealing but now people are discovering how delicious it tastes, how versatile it is in both hot and cold dishes and how nutritious it is.”

The vegetable, which is mildly sweet and nutty in taste though more subtle than its relative, celery, can often be found on the menus of vegetarian/vegan and upmarket restaurants served as a roasted celeriac steak with mouth-watering sauces.

But it can also be made into soups, baked with fish or meat, turned into coleslaw or remoulade, made into chips, mash, and even muffins.

Jack Buck Farms began as a business in 1959 and besides growing staples like potatoes and courgettes quickly made a name for themselves by producing more unusual vegetables such as chard, fennel and celeriac.

The company admits it took a chance growing just two acres of the “strange looking” celeriac in 1986 but have seen demand grow steadily over the last four decades to now where they plant 450 acres of the crop annually.

Its first customer was Tesco whom it has supplied with celeriac and other vegetables for more than four decades.

Celeriac is grown on Jack Buck’s farm near Spalding, in the area’s fine silt soils and is harvested from August to November then stored through till July so it can be enjoyed all year round without the need for imports. The company now produce 90 per cent of all the celeriac grown in the UK.

Managing Director Julian Perowne shared, 'We’ve always had faith in the vegetable because we love the taste but never really expected it to take off as much as it has done in the last few years.

“Celeriac is proof that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Don’t judge it be its rough, knobbly surface and odd shape – it’s incredibly good for you and is a great alternative to potato.

“The current plant-based food revolution has really put celeriac on the food map and it’s been championed by not only by top end restaurant chefs such as Yotam Ottolenghi but TV celebrities such as Greg Wallace, Guy Martin and Ainsley Harriott.”