Could the ‘sproutatron’ get your children eating their Brussels this Christmas? Farmers hail new device that can measure each individual brassica by size to ensure only the best and matching sprouts are packed
- R&K Drysdale have invested in a hightech grading machine, the ‘sproutatron’
- Drysdale uses the machine to size the sprouts accurately
- 18-to-24-year-olds who claim to ‘love’ sprouts has risen to 44 per cent this year
- 25 per cent of the annual consumption of Brussels sprouts is at Christmas
Farmers reckon they have finally found a way to get young people to like Brussels sprouts – by making sure they are all the same size so they can be cooked evenly.
To help them pick matching sprouts, bosses at R&K Drysdale, one of the UK’s largest brassica growers, have invested in a hightech grading machine, nicknamed the ‘sproutatron’.
Working with Tesco to supply around 70 per cent of its sprouts, Drysdale uses the machine – which looks like the sort of gadget that could be in a Wallace & Gromit movie – to size the sprouts accurately with the push of a button.
They will be more consistently sized in packets, making the cooking process more even.
R&K Drysdale, one of the UK’s largest brassica growers, have invested in a hightech grading machine, nicknamed the ‘sproutatron’
A survey by Tesco revealed that the number of 18-to-24-year-olds who claim to ‘love’ sprouts has risen from 26 per cent in 2021 to 44 per cent this year
It means an end to the lottery of some people getting small and overcooked soggy sprouts, while others crunch through harder big ones.
New milder and sweeter varieties, particularly Cobelius, have been introduced too.
A survey by Tesco revealed that the number of 18-to-24-year-olds who claim to ‘love’ sprouts has risen from 26 per cent in 2021 to 44 per cent this year.
The ‘sproutatron’ works by taking eight photographs of each sprout as it travels along the conveyor belt, assessing it for a predetermined size.
And it can take pictures of 25 sprouts per second. The computerised grader then identifies all sprouts of the same size.
These are sent into the same lane to be processed. It means that when the sprouts are bagged up they are all of a uniform size.
Tesco produce buyer Sam Miller said: ‘Thanks to the latest technology, our customers will be able to buy some of the very best-tasting and freshest sprouts.
‘These machines speed up the grading procedure, which drastically cuts the time it takes to get the sprouts from the field to our shelves.’
Gavin Milne, general manager of Drysdale – based in Cockburnspath, Scotland – said: ‘We work closely with seed houses onvarietal development and taste, with the aim being to eliminate varieties that are more bitter than others.’
Around 25 per cent of the annual consumption of Brussels sprouts is at Christmas. Tesco expects to sell around 1.5million kilograms (3.3million pounds) of sprouts in the two weeks before the big day.
They are so named after becoming popular in the Belgian capital in the 16th century, but come from Iran and Afghanistan originally