Oliver gives a seasonal boost to asparagus

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The Independent Online

The national love affair with the tender green spears of the asparagus plant has reached an unprecedented intensity, courtesy of the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

The national love affair with the tender green spears of the asparagus plant has reached an unprecedented intensity, courtesy of the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

Handsomely repaying the faith of Sainsbury's bosses who signed a new £1m deal with him in April, Oliver's latest television adverts have created the highly sought after "Delia effect".

With just five days until the end of the British asparagus season, sales of the vegetable once regarded as a luxury are soaring.

Sainsbury's says the response has been "astonishing". Stores have seen asparagus sales soar by 290 per cent. Pack sales have risen from 700,000 to 1.4m.

"Our asparagus [is] flying off the shelves," said Sainsbury's trading manager John Maylam.

Rivals have also benefited from Oliver's endorsement - a phenomenon witnessed when Delia Smith plugged Maldon Sea Salt and cranberries in her cookbooks.

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