With figs the highest-performing tropical and exotic fruit in the past year, suppliers are bolstering their supply to match growing demand. Per Hogberg, sales and marketing director at Wealmoor, says the company has invested in supplying UK retailers throughout the winter with Toro Sentado varieties grown in Peru.

How does Wealmoor source its figs?

Per Hogberg: In October the big fig season is in Turkey, and that’s from the end of August, beginning of September, through to October. They have the biggest volumes.

We have developed our own sourcing with Peru, working with innovative growers, to continue the supply of black figs from November to May, so a long period. For us it’s important to have black figs over Christmas.

South Africa comes from May to June together with Chile. Mexico and the US also comes in May, then it comes from Israel and Spain. The main varieties include Black Mission from Chile, Ronde de Bordeaux from South Africa, Brown Turkey, Colar from Spain, Bursa from Turkey and Toro Sentado from Peru.

What’s driven retail success of figs in the past year?

PH: Figs have been our talking point this year. I think it’s about their quality – they deliver consistently. It’s also about getting consumers into the product. Peruvian products were recently launched and Morrisons has already got figs in its top tier as a Best brand.

It’s important to make it accessible and to market the crop in loose as well as pre-packaged formats. If people understand how to use it then it will do well. Morrisons already do some great promotions.

So it’s about continued availability throughout the year and teaching customers what to do with it, which is always the case with tropical fruits.

Wholesalers WT Hill & Sons have a long history at Western International Market. Operations manager Will Hill says the dried fruit has great potential going forward.

Why might the British public have “woken up” to figs?

Will Hill: My feeling is that even though the UK has had hundreds of years of exposure to different cultural cuisines, the popularity of Lebanese, Turkish and Spanish food has seen a large increase in the past four to five years, and with this figs as a product followed. Instead of being almost an exotic fruit, figs have become an ingredient and a snack option, especially dried figs.

Has it been difficult to supply with rising demand?

WH: With demand rising yearly, the issue now is to be able to satisfy orders from our customers. We solely concentrate on dried figs at WT Hill and are excited to see how far we can push the product in the next 10 years. With regards to price it’s very difficult to tell as figs have always been of fairly high value but we would hope to see this be maintained and improved.

How can figs continue to gain market share in the UK and increase in popularity?

WH: I feel that as people are exposed to figs and can see that they are an accessible and convenient snack, their popularity will rise. I do feel that the dried fruit has the edge here and would hope that trend in popularity continues.