The first British asparagus of the season has hit shelves at M&S, with the retailer predicting a 50 per cent rise in sales this year.
The UK season does not traditionally begin until late April/early May but special growing techniques have allowed their supplier to extend the harvest in recent years.
M&S is expecting sales to soar as British crop starts to arrive in stores and the chain is predicting a bumper year, with sales up 50 per cent on last season.
Wye Valley grower and M&S supplier John Chinn, who grows in tunnels and uses new cold-resistant varieties,has pioneered an environmentally-friendly production system that includes harnessing the sun’s energy, rather than using artificial heat, to stimulate crop growth.
In addition, water run-off from the farm is channelled using a network of grass-lined waterways and is then used again on the farm, reducing soil erosion and water usage.
M&S said being able to source British-grown asparagus for a longer period reduces its carbon footprint and provides crucial support for the UK farming industry.
The retailer added that UK asparagus is “sweeter and more flavoursome than imported varieties”.
M&S vegetable buyer Emma Whitby said: “There’s always an air of excitement when the first British asparagus comes into season as it signals the beginning of spring. This year our customers will be able to enjoy the quintessentially British vegetable even earlier.”
The retailer now offers white asparagus, purple asparagus and King Asparagus, which it launched last year. These are extra-large, thick spears that can be cut lengthways and grilled or roasted.
British asparagus has been on sale at M&S stores since 8 March, with Royal Crown Asparagus and Extra Fine Asparagus priced at £2, Asparagus Tips priced at £2.50, and King Asparagus retailing at £4.