British Berry Growers names Co-op ‘UK berry retailer of the year’ 

The Co-op grew its British berry sales by 22 per cent in 2023 compared to the prior year

The Co-op grew its British berry sales by 22 per cent in 2023 

UK berry industry body British Berry Growers has named the Co-op ‘2023 retailer of the year’ for achieving the highest growth in UK berry sales this season.

Co-op achieved a total year-on-year increase of 22.1 per cent in volume sales across all British-grown berries, ahead of Marks & Spencer – which saw a total increase of 13 per cent, and Lidl (6.7 per cent), the organisation said.

Commenting on the award, which was presented to the Co-op last week (8 November) at a ceremony in London, British Berry Growers’ chairman Nick Marston said: “Co-op’s commitment to buying British berries has been growing year-on-year. With a rise of 22.1 per cent volume sales across all berries, we are delighted to see Co-op ‘over-indexing’ on year-on-year growth. It’s an achievement we hope other retailers will emulate.”

Kantar data shows volume sales of berries has soared 7.7 per cent in the past five months (May to October 2023), outpacing growth of just 0.8 per cent across all fruit. This, Kantar explains, has been driven largely by price promotions and premium own-label berry lines which have encouraged shoppers to trade-up.

Value sales are also up 11.4 per cent for all berries, while all fruit has grown 7.8 per cent in value.The only berry in decline was raspberries, which British Berry Growers attributed to disproportionally high labour costs forcing growers to scale back production.

Despite the surge in sales, UK berry growers continue to face serious challenges, with input costs increasing by over 30 per cent over the last two years, according to the industry group.

“We’re delighted by the growth in sales and Co-op’s commitment to driving penetration in the category. It’s so important all our supermarkets get behind our growers. Buying British over imported berries saves on food miles, and we know consumers want British where possible,” Marston added.

Commenting on the Co-op’s award, Mark Cloudy, Co-op buyer, said: “Co-op are delighted to have received recognition as Retailer of the Year from the British Berry Growers Association.

”It’s been a fantastic year for the team, from being the first retailer to reveal it was providing 100 per cent British strawberries for the King’s Coronation, to our ongoing support and close working relationships with our British growers and suppliers throughout the season – a partnership approach which has delivered a 22 per cent growth this year on British berries volumes, and provided great taste, quality and value for our members and customers in communities across the UK.”

British Berry Growers is the industry body for the British berry industry, which is worth £1.79 billion to the UK economy. Its members supply 95 per cent of the berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries) in UK supermarkets.

Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance and legal services. Owned by millions of UK consumers, the Co-op operates over 2,400 food stores.