'Superfood' broccoli supplies hit by Big Freeze

Severe winter weather conditions have led to a collapse in supplies of one of health-conscious foodies' favourite vegetables - purple-sprouting broccoli.

Up to 50% of the crop has been lost because of the long periods of sub-zero temperatures when Britain was snowbound. And other more traditional winter veg such as cauliflowers have also been affected.

Sales of purple-sprouting broccoli have increased in recent years since it won a reputation as a "superfood" because of its high levels of iron, folic acid, calcium, fibre and vitamins A and C.

But the chair of the National Farmers Union's horticulture board, Sarah Pettit, who grows the vegetable near Boston, Lincolnshire, said fans of the variety may have to search harder and pay more this year.

Ms Pettit told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We vegetable-growers are used to the odd frost or two, but the sub-zero temperatures over a range of different weeks during the winter months have absolutely devastated the purple-sprouting crop.

"I am anticipating up to 50% of the UK crop may have been affected... That will have quite an impact on growers.

"We are at least a month behind because of the cold conditions. There is crop in the ground. We are seeing some very good quality crops coming through, but we are not in a position to have the volumes we expect at this time of year.

"Customers will be enjoying purple-sprouting broccoli, but they may have to wait a little longer."

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