Meet the man who navigates Asda’s sprouts from soil to store and will test over 2,200 sprouts in the run up to Christmas
· Andy Wareham has over 30 years experience testing the flavour, size, weight, odour, and texture of sprouts
· The perfect sprout is 3.2cms, 17.2grams, has 12 leaf layers, is a mid-hue green with a slight bitter odour
· Sprouts sales soar 700% and over 650 tonnes will be sold during the festive period
· Biggest spike in sprout sales is on 21 December
Love them or hate them, sprouts are a Christmas staple and Asda will sell over 650 tonnes of the green vegetable in the run up to the Big Day, but imagine if your job revolved around tasting them all year? That’s the case for Andy Wareham, Asda’s chief sprout taster and buyer of Christmas staples (sprouts, parsnips and carrots) from Kent.
With over 30 years’ experience of tasting sprouts, Andy has rigorous protocol for when it comes to the sprouts that make it onto the supermarket’s shelves.
Based in Leeds and working closely with the Asda growers, Andy measures sprouts every single week to ensure they’re all about the same size and weight for customers. Andy and his team will taste each crop of sprouts, tasting over 450 sprouts per sitting. He will even carry out tests on the odour and texture regularly to ensure the sprouts are top notch.
Testing over 2,200 sprouts in the run up to Christmas this year, Andy’s checklist for the perfect sprout includes looking out for those measuring approximately 3.2cm, a weight of 17.2grams with at least 12 little leaf layers, a mid-hue green colour ensuring there are no yellow leaves, and a slight bitter odour.
The sprouts will also be checked to see whether they are suitable to be sold on their stalks, or better suited for a 500-gram pack.
The majority of Asda’s sprouts come from land close to four different UK farms, three of which are based in Lincolnshire and one in Yorkshire. Sprouts grow from the ground upwards on sprout ‘trees’ and are grown on relatively frost-free ground so that it’s suitable for producing a good uniform crop.
Andy Wareham said: “Christmas is understandably a peak time for sprouts as we will sell over 650 tonnes of the green vegetable. At Asda we grow over 17 varieties, which enables us and the customer to get the best quality sprouts. We work hard to make sure they are measuring up to the right size, weight, look and taste so there is consistent quality. We also take a ‘one tasty mouthful’ testing approach with our sprouts to ensure they are the right size for our customers to eat easily.
“When it comes to preparing sprouts or ‘buttons’ as we call them in the industry, any yellow leaves should be removed. The smaller sprouts tend to be the younger ones and therefore the most tender for those that like a softer sprout.
“As we all have different taste buds, sprouts may taste sweet and nutty to some, and slightly bitter to others. So when we taste test them, we make sure everyone’s opinion is taken on board, both from our team and customer reviews, to ensure we’re delivering sprouts that suit everyone’s taste buds this Christmas.”