Britain’s favourite vegetable is enjoying a new surge of consumer interest because of the success of a tastier, smaller version reintroduced by British growers.

The humble carrot is eaten more than any other vegetable, according to the Food Standards Agency, and it has been reinvented with the return of the traditional Chantenay variety, which was grown in large quantities in the UK up until the 1960s.

In the past five years, Chantenay production has increased to 20,000t a year and forms almost 4% of the national carrot crop.

Freshgro, a Lincs-based co-operative which has worked hard to promote Chantenay carrots in this country, now grows nearly 70% of the UK’s total area.

And commercial manager Nigel Pell says the vegetable is now taking off. “We’re trying to promote it at present,” he said.

“For years we’ve been trying to get availability up, but now we believe there’s enough to target sales. Chantenays already appear in all the major multiples.”

Apart from the baby carrot’s taste, which is considered sweeter and juicier than normal carrots, it offers farmers a much better profit margin.

Mr Pell said growers were paid up to four times more for Chantenays than for normal carrots, although they are a much more time-consuming crop.