Market Report 1.4.19

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Brexit looms large over all of us like the sword of Damocles. ‘No idea’ or ‘It’s a right mess’ has become my stock answer to my trader friends in Milan.

The weather last week was like early summer. The stone fruit trees are in full blossom already - slightly ahead in season. Fingers crossed for no frost.

White Bassano asparagus has started. Just in time for easter, Cardoncello (same name as the delicious mushroom) has started, a staunch Easter favorite, a member of the Cardoon family, traditionally served with eggs or meat at the celebrations.

Baby poppy plant has a lovely fresh taste and is used in soups like Minestrone. Tarragon (Dragoncello) and red sorrel is also back.

We have seen the last of Yosemite clems, Recchia clems, Broccolo fiori, Broccolo paeano, and Minestra, Looking forward to the start of red basil (not all basil are the same flavour!) Trombetta courgettes, Borlotti beans, Italian Nespole, and maybe signs of the first stone fruits.”
— Tess, our Italian buyer (07766 654732 /

Tess also recommends: peas, broadbeans, bruscandoli, Candonga strawberries, Abate pears, San Mazzano, Marinda, borage, agretti, basil, courgette flowers, puntarelle, cime di rapa, Tropea onions, La Costiera lemons, Rainbow chard.


Lots of super tomatoes are coming onto the market, mainly from Provence. Pineapple, Noir de Crimee, Zebra - all from uber growers Pomme D’Amour. Based in Chateaurenard, and therefore exposed to the hot Mediterranean sunshine. Started by Edouard Cestier, he sprouted tomato seeds kept from the previous year in late winter, before sowing them under glass sheets near Cypress hedges to protect them from the Mistral. Come the summer people would ask Edouard for some of his ‘Chateaurenard flat tomatoes’ and he started growing them commercially. There are nice mixed boxes coming through, plus the increasingly popular Blue Raf.

Also spotted is the first Noirmoutier potatoes. Grown on Noirmoutier Island, the potatoes thrive in the particularly mild climate and the salty air. They grow in sandy earth, enriched by seaweed, which is where they get their unique flavour.
— Andy, our French buyer (07810 504512 /

Andy also recommends: white asparagus, Gariguette strawberries, first Rainbow radish, yellow courgettes, air freight mango, raspberries, French cauliflowers.


In France, courgettes from Chateaurenard have started but in small volumes. Asparagus is full season. Muscade have a couple of weeks left while butternut is finishing. Cauli from Brittany is suffering from low prices for English. Banana shallot price is increasing - top quality and some demand but low volumes. Romanesco from Brittany is back in volumes and accessible in price. (x6 heads easier to get than x8). Jérusalem artichoke price is slightly down, root vegetables are all available.

From Spain, red Palermo is still short and the price strong. Courgettes are available and great quality - price is stable and already quite low. Strawberries are available, prices are down with volumes and little demand. Red chilies 3kg are available in very small amounts and the quality is very average. Peppers are end of season and getting fragile

From Morocco, red chilies are hard to find and extremely expensive. Tomatoes are shorter also. White and red kapya are still missing. The Charentais type melon will be unavailable till at least next week. Sweet potatoes from USA are still short and extremely expensive.
— Gaelle, ESC Direct (+33 789 866 675 /