Last week marked the start of the British strawberry season and, as the berries begin to arrive on the supermarket shelves fresh from the farm, growers are predicting a £325 million record year of strawberry sales in 2015, beating a previous record of £275 million in 2014.
According to the soft fruit industry, there are four main reasons for the growth: an extended season, new varieties, further use of innovative growing methods and more acres planted.
Consumers can’t get enough of the great British berry thanks to its taste, which this year will be even more sweet and juicy, as a result of the sunniest winter since records began. This winter, Britain enjoyed record levels of sunlight, totalling 196 hours. The Met office also reported the warmest day in April for four years, peaking at 25°C. With longer periods of natural light the rate of photosynthesis has increased, which means the plants have produced more sugars, resulting in a sweet and juicy crop.
British strawberries are flying off the shelves in supermarkets, outpacing all other fruit categories. Furthermore, a recent National Farmers Union survey reported that 86% of shoppers are keen to buy food produced from British farms, supporting the growth in British strawberries.
This year’s strawberry season has started 10 days later than in 2014 due to the colder nights in April. However, British Summer Fruits, the industry body that represents 98% of growers supplying supermarkets, predicts that 76,000 tonnes of strawberries will be produced this year.