The latest Family Capital Podcast with Matthew Gwyther comes from a cabbage field in the middle of Lincolnshire. The humble and modest white cabbage is the poor cousin of the brassica family of vegetables – the Aunt Sally which retails for 70p in UK supermarkets next to its more illustrious cousin Tenderstem broccoli or Brussels Sprouts.
However, in a world populated by ever-growing numbers of vegetarians and vegans, the search for sustainable sources of plant-based protein amid heightened concerns about global greenhouse emissions has shone the spotlight on Lincolnshire cabbage. Soya from what was the Amazonian rainforest is not the answer.
Naylor Farms, Europe’s biggest cabbage producer by acreage, has developed a method to extract protein from the brassica and is building a €38mn facility in the UK’s East Midlands funded by a loan from a Dutch state-controlled investment entity, Invest International.
Simon Naylor, the fourth generation of the family-owned farm (whose father, when not on his tractor, was the UK speed skating champion) has been looking for a way to use the outer green leaves of the cabbage that supermarkets did not want in their coleslaw. Four years of research and development with Dutch scientists has led to a “cold press” process producing protein, fibre and a sweet umami syrup from cabbage. He may even have found a cost-effective replacement for soy sauce, the expensive Japanese brand has hit more than £4 a bottle in supermarkets.