I wrote this poem nearly ten years ago, when Tesco stopped stocking loose sprouts for a period.  I wrote to them about it and wove the reply I got into the poem. Some few years after I wrote the poem Tesco began stocking loose sprouts again, although I can’t take any credit for that! I believe they still do so, although I don’t shop there.

I was sad to think this poem had gone out of date (although happy about improved sprout availability). Today I learn that Asda have done the same nul-sprout thing. I am chuffed to learn that the poem once again has a purpose. So here it is …


Fresh sprouts can be sourced all year round, of course
but we don’t carry stock outside the
Christmas period. There are always delicious frozen
sprouts available from our freezer range.

Our sprouts are mainly sourced from California.
No, there’s no need to pick them after frost.
That it improves the flavour is an old wife’s tale.
And flavour’s not our main consideration.
In order of priority we want:
first a good shelf life; next an attractive sprout –
the sprout should be a bright, consistent green.
The ideal sprout shape should be regular.
Here’s a diagram of our in-house sprout screener.
And here’s a picture of the perfect sprout.

I’m surprised that you should throw the old tag
‘pile it high and sell it cheap’ at us. We have moved on.
Now we prefer to demonstrate our pricing edge
with representative baskets, as compared with our competitors.

We strive daily to improve our shopping culture,
heightening consumer choice and pleasure.
The results are plain to see – well-filled trolleys
pass through our check-outs constantly.
To facilitate our efforts we train
in-house focus groups to simulate
our perfect shopping standard. Thus we know
fresh sprouts are only eaten around Christmas.

No, we don’t use consumer feedback to inform
our sprout decisions. Consuming units are
unreliable. No, we don’t call them people.
We don’t ask consuming units about stocking.
That’s too complex for them. We research
consumer preference all the time, but we
don’t ask consuming units. Consuming units don’t know
what they want until we give it to them.
They only want to know which aisle the sugar’s on.
Our focus groups provide much better data.

No, we don’t have a focus group for sprouts.



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