Beet-le Juice

Posted by Josette Dunn on 10th September 2010

Once strictly the domain of a ploughman’s lunch, beetroot is now also a colourful addition to the breakfast table. Sales of beetroot juice at UK retailer Waitrose have shot up with demand for the purple-hued drink rising by 82 per cent in the past year. This sharp rise in popularity is outpacing the growth in sales of orange juice and other more traditional juices.And it’s not just beetroot juice that Britons are stocking up on. The vegetable itself is fast becoming a culinary staple. Waitrose has reported raw bunched beetroot sales to be up 15% and prepared beetroot up 22% when compared to the previous year. Beetroot is increasingly used as a fashionable ingredient in restaurants where it is served in salads, soups or roasted.

This trend follows scientific reports linking beetroot juice to lower blood pressure and a decreased risk of heart disease*. Also the University of Exeter has conducted a study that found drinking beetroot juice increases stamina during exercise. The juice doubled the amount of nitrate in the blood which reduces the amount of oxygen used by the muscles and makes them work more efficiently for longer.

The drink is usually sold ready-mixed with sweeter apple juice to smooth over its slightly earthy flavour and make it more palatable.

Waitrose soft drinks buyer Neil Whelpton said the retailer had sold juice made from the root vegetable since 2006, but in the past six months noticed a jump in customer demand.

He said ‘Once just the preserve of pickles, beetroot is now the ‘veg-du-jour’. I’m a convert myself as I love the earthy difference it delivers in flavour, just don’t spill it!’

Three types of beetroot and apple juice are currently on sale at the supermarket. Their beetroot juice content ranges from 90 per cent in one product to 79 per cent in another.

Meanwhile beetroot beginners could start with the third variety that is 88 per cent apple and just 12 per cent beetroot juice to get a feel for it.