9 Dec 2021

Why New Zealanders are eating less kale

7:37 am on 9 December 2021

Kale has fallen out of favour with New Zealand consumers, with the country's largest grower of salad crops reporting a significant decline in sales.

Woman holding fresh kale leaves on brown background, closeup

Photo: 123rf.com

Leaderbrand said its internal numbers indicated sales for pure baby kale has declined by almost 40 percent over the last four years.

It said Google searches for kale in Australia and New Zealand peaked in mid-2014 and at that time plenty of people had been baking leaves to make chips, mixing leaves into smoothies and adding it into their salads.

Leaderbrand chief executive Richard Burke said during the peak of New Zealand's kale obsession the company had been growing the crop at two sites, but it had now reduced plantings in response to much weaker demand.

"We picked up on the kale trend a few years back and it really did pick up some steam and and became quite a big product for us but we've really seen that drop off over over recent years and particularly over the last 12 months," Burke said.

"So kale certainly fallen out of favour with with a lot of New Zealanders."

Richard Burke suspected the decline was because despite the health benefits, the bitter after taste and rough texture of kale hadn't been for everyone.

"I have a personal view because I've never been a big fan of the flavour of kale and, you know, we were quite big growers of it, so we tried plenty of ways of eating and and it's not the most pleasant eating experience."

"Most people recommend you you do a whole lot of stuff with it to make it edible," he said.

Richard Burke said spinach was the new star of the show with strong continued sales and baby lettuce lines were also doing well.

Leaderbrand's research found those who remained loyal kale consumers tended to be young singles and young couples.