Growing Kale Sales in NI ahead of National Kale Day

It is National Kale Day, and with kale now recognised as one of the leading food trends in the food and fitness sector, the popularity of kale has surged in Northern Ireland.

One of the Province’s leading suppliers of fresh fruit and vegetables, the North Down Group, has seen growth of 25% in sales of kale year-on-year, and the company now has three local farmers who are supplying over 6,000 kilos of kale per year.

Peter Robinson, Procurement Manager for the Foodservice Division at the North Down Group explains: “Five years ago there was virtually no demand from our customers for kale but over the past two years, kale has become a key ingredient on many of our customers’ menus.

“We’ve been working with our local growers to increase their acreage, dedicated to kale, and we’re now supplying locally-grown kale to over 100 customers Province-wide.”

A new kale grower to the North Down Group is Comber-based Windwhistle Farm, where four acres of kale are about to be harvested. Owned by the Dunlop family and farmed by son in law James Booth, Windwhistle Farm is growing three types of kale – Green, Red and Cavo Nero otherwise referred to as Black Kale.

Kale is just one of the many vegetables that the North Down Group sources locally. With between 30 and 40 local farmers, supplying a wide range of fruit and vegetables, the North Down Group is supplying Northern Ireland’s top restaurants and cafes with fresh produce for over 25 years. Customers include Ox, the Muddler’s Club, James Street South, Slim’s Kitchen, the Waterfront Hall and Mount Charles Catering.

Other fruits and vegetables growing in popularity include purple cauliflower, Romanesco, heritage carrots and pomegranates, and ahead of the busy winter season, the North Down Group is anticipating an increase in demand for seasonal specials such as pumpkins, cranberries and Brussels sprouts.

Earlier in the year, the North Down Group was named as Foodservice Supplier of the Year at a major food awards in London, organised by the UK fresh produce trade association – FPC. The company is one of NI’s most recognised suppliers for fresh produce and fine foods and employs 112 people.