Holding back the Tears

As Sunions go on sale in the UK, research reveals that many Brits would give up ice cream and cake to go vegan, but draw the line at cheese and dairy.

This week it was finally announced that tearless onions would go on sale in UK supermarkets after much talk and hype over the years. In a what has been dubbed a gamechanging move for red-eyed chefs everywhere, Waitrose will begin selling the ’tearless’ variety from next week.

But does the arrival of Sunions in the UK herald a new beginning for consumers and the foodservice industry, or will consumers ultimately reject the cross-breeding of a perfectly good vegetable?

Well, the first sticking point could well be the price. A pack of three Sunions will set consumers back £1.50, whereas Waitrose’s regular onions retail at 14p each.

Another might be the flavour. In attempting to reduce the volatile compounds in onions that create the pungent flavours and are responsible for tearing, years of cross-breeding less pungent strains of onion have also changed the flavour. As well as being “brown, tearless and sweet” for some, the milder Sunion and lack of tear forming acidic enzymes is a problem.

“The tearless onion is just the latest chapter in the long running ‘blandification’ and ‘sweetification’ of our food,” bemoaned Sue Quinn in the Telegraph, “it’s important to cry when you chop onions”.

One thing that could never be considered to be bland is cheese and this week it was also revealed that although many Brits are keen to embrace healthier diets and plant-based alternatives, one thing many would find impossible to give up would be cheese.

New research of 2,000 people revealed that although most would give up ice cream and cake to go vegan, more than 40% said they would struggle to give up cheese.

In addition, while a third were keen to try more plant-based alternatives this year, 32% also said they wouldn’t be going without cow’s milk as as quarter admitted that vegan breakfast alternatives just weren’t as exciting as those offered by meat and dairy.