Barfoots of Botley has announced a major investment to help extend asparagus shelf life.

Its on-farm rapid-chill plant from STS Refrigeration aids the removal of field heat in less than half the time of its previous system. As well as extending shelf life, it reduces waste at retail and consumer level. The UK asparagus season will start later this month and runs until July.

James Meers, Barfoots of Botley business manager said: “UK asparagus is regarded as one of the true tastes of summer alongside Jersey Royal potatoes and strawberries and is therefore a key purchase in the weekly shop. For this very reason we have a duty to ensure the offer is of optimum quality.

“The investment is another demonstration of our commitment to the development and promotion of the UK asparagus season. Our aim is to present consumers not only a product that is seasonally available, but one that also delivers on taste time and time again.”

According to market analyst Kantar Worldpanel UK asparagus output reaches 3,000 tonnes a year and annual asparagus sales totaled £21.8 million throughout 2012, despite the adverse weather conditions.

Meers said: “The removal of field heat from the product as quickly as possible without damage has always been a challenge for the growers. We have worked closely with STS Refrigeration over the past year to trial, develop and ultimately deliver the equipment that we believe will become an industry game-changer.”