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Date: Jul 20, 2020

Asian Vegetables in Europe? Fresh vegetable consumption in the EU is barely growing. Along with an aging population in Europe, diet-related chronic diseases are on the rise. The recent coronavirus pandemic is emphasizing how important a robust immune system is.

But how can we prevent chronic diseases and keep ourselves healthy? Through an adequate consumption of vegetables? What does “adequate” mean? How can we increase the volume of fresh vegetable consumption? One solution can be the introduction of new Asian vegetables into the European market. Why?
 Introducing new Asian vegetables will enhance the diversity of nutritious agricultural products in Europe. It will also meet rising consumer demands for new vegetable species and varieties that are exotic and higher in value. However, publications and information about Asian vegetables are currently limited.


The introduction of new Asian vegetables into the European market

Jungha Hong and Nazim S. GrudaJungha Hong, graduate student, and Nazim S. Gruda, professor at the Department of Horticultural Sciences at the University of Bonn, recently published a review in the journal Horticulturae focused on the diversity of fresh vegetable products for consumers.


The potential for new Asian vegetables

Indeed, consumer demand for diverse, nutritious, and exotic vegetables has been consistently increasing. The introduction of new vegetables from Asia is expected to have enormous potential in the European market. This review provides a list of Asian vegetables commonly consumed in China, Japan, Korea and the rest of Southeast Asia, many of which have not received any attention yet.

Young shoots of Japanese angelica tree (Photo: Jungha Hong)


Japanese angelica tree

  Young shoots of Japanese angelica tree (Photo: Jungha Hong)


Four recommended Asian vegetables

The review recommends four Asian vegetables in particular. They possess health benefits and fit current trends of the European vegetable market with a unique taste for consumers and higher value for farmers. They are also increasingly in demand and easy to cultivate. Moreover, they are pleasing to the eye and relatively small.

(1) Korean ginseng sprout
(2) Korean cabbage
(3) Coastal hog fennel
(4) Japanese (Chinese or Korean) angelica tree


The European Market for Asian Vegetables

To increase market share of new Asian vegetables, consumer education, safety assurances, and marketing campaigns are needed.

Due to stricter European import regulations concerning safety standard of vegetables, the cultivation of new Asian vegetables within Europe can be a good opportunity for European growers to open a new premium niche market. Safe, local, seasonal and perhaps organic products of Asian vegetables in Europe can lead to a promising business. This might be the reason that stakeholders are showing interest in this study:


Are we able to produce these vegetables despite climate change?

Climate change is threatening the production and quality of vegetables all across the EU, another aspect included in this study. For European growers, the new Asian vegetables should be easy to cultivate and should promise a good harvest with high yield. For consumers, these vegetables should be nutritious, clean, fresh, and high quality. Innovative greenhouse technologies that use renewable energy can lead to year-round, high quality and high-yield production, meeting food safety standards despite climate change.

Further information on the original article: 

Hong, JH and NS Gruda. The Potential of Introduction of Asian Vegetables in Europe. Horticulturae 2020, 6(3), 38.

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