Ellesmere-based The British Quinoa Company to supply M&S
It may have originated in South America, but now quinoa is becoming increasingly in the UK popular thanks to the efforts of a farmer in Shropshire.
Stephen Jones, who runs The British Quinoa Company, continues to grow the crop on his farm near Ellesmere.
And thanks to the surge in popularity, M&S is bringing home-grown British quinoa to its shelves across the UK for the first time.
The retailer has worked with the Shropshire-based firm to introduce 'non-bitter' quinoa, following an increase in demand from UK shoppers.
Quinoa, a trendy wheat-free super food, originated from South America as a staple diet of the Incas and their descendants.
The British Quinoa Company's quinoa is delicate and subtly nutty in flavour, as the quinoa retains its outer layer which is full of minerals and fibre – making it one of the most nutritious in the world.
With twice the protein content of rice or barley and a good source of calcium, magnesium and manganese, foodies in the UK have heralded quinoa as a superior alternative to wheat, couscous and rice.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, The British Quinoa Company employs four people from the local area, and produces 500 tonnes of quinoa each year.
Mr Jones, managing director at the firm, is the sixth generation of the family to manage the farm in Shropshire.
He said: "We are delighted to be launching our British grown quinoa to M&S customers. We've seen a real surge in interest in quinoa over the last few years as food-lovers increasingly look for alternatives to wheat, and we have spent a lot of time refining ours to get it just right.
"The result is something that's both delicious and healthy, as well as having the added benefit of being grown right here in the UK."
Helen Seward, M&S nutritionist, said: "We're very excited to be working with The British Quinoa Company to offer our customers home grown quinoa.
"It's a fantastic wheat free alternative, packed with protein and fibre. It's also really versatile – it can be added to a salad, used to stuff peppers or coat chicken, or made into a quinoa burger – delicious."
The rise of British quinoa is the result of the research efforts of Mr Jones who found a variety of the plant that could be grown in Europe, which was originally developed by a university in the Netherlands.
Mr Jones said growing the crop in the UK has many environmental benefits because there is no need to waste money and energy shipping consignments across the Atlantic.