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Sprout teams working to beat freeze

Growers and packers around the country have been working round the clock to ensure there will be enough Brussels sprouts on supermarket shelves for Christmas, a major supplier said.

The sub-zero temperatures and volume of snow have made harvesting conditions extremely challenging, in particular for loose sprouts, said a spokeswoman for Marshalls.

"Teams of harvesters have battled freezing temperatures and horizontal snow to ensure a continuous supply," she added.

The company grows sprouts from the West Country to Lincolnshire and Scotland, meaning it has been able to ensure a continuous supply to all customers, she said.

Catriona Mowbray, marketing manager, added: "A key learning from the last two severe winters is that a good geographical spread is critical to continuous supply, but nobody could have predicted the widespread nature and length of this Arctic weather over the UK.

"We have increased the quantity of sprout trees we are supplying to our customers and earlier this year invested in state-of-the art storage and handling facilities which have enabled us to deliver the incredible volumes during this peak period."

Sprout trees (whole stems of sprouts sold intact) are becoming increasingly popular with consumers because they can cook them as they need them, ensuring fresher sprouts with minimal wastage.

The spokeswoman said Marshalls had delivered more than half a million sprout trees since the beginning of this week and the quantity would rise to more than one million in the run-up to Christmas.

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