The British strawberry season officially began today (24 May) with growers predicting a six per cent increase in production this year, trade body British Summer Fruits (BSF) has reported.
The cool, dry winter, coupled with recent warm weather, which saw temperatures rise to 26 degrees on 24 May, has created the perfect growing conditions for this year’s strawberry crop, BSF said.
Strawberries are now on supermarket shelves in abundance and this is helping to meet rising demand among consumers.
BSF chairman Laurence Olins said: “This season’s strawberry production reflects a robust and expanding soft fruit category that is able to meet the growing consumer demand.
“More and more people understand the fantastic health benefits of snacking on a punnet of berries, and fortunately we have been able to match this growing demand with innovation in the industry, to ensure consumers can look forward to good quality British berries on their supermarket shelves.”
Emma Derbyshire, BSF public health nutritionist, added: "Berries are a great healthy, summer snack which is backed up by one of the largest bodies of research.
“They are an abundant source of vitamins, minerals and phyto (plant) nutrients which have been linked to a diverse range of health benefits.”
Over the past year, more than 126,000 tonnes of strawberries were sold in the UK, with shoppers spending more than £580 million on the berry, according to Kantar data for the 52 weeks to 23 April 2017.
Overall consumption of fresh berries, including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, has grown by 132 per cent since 2007, outstripping the 49 per cent increase in fruit consumption as a whole.
Berries now make up 22 per cent of all fruit sold in the UK, and this has pushed the value of the berry industry above £1.2 billion, according to Kantar data.
Among the varieties available on shelves will be Malling Centenary, Sweet Eve, Sonata, Elsanta, Driscoll’s Zara and Ava Joy.