The 2021 British strawberry season officially starts today (18 May), with cooler weather and slower growth meaning strawberries will be bigger and juicier than previous years, according to British Summer Fruits.

The industry body, which represents 95 per cent of berries supplied to retail, announced that British berries are now available to buy in UK supermarkets, slightly later than usual.

The cooler winter and spring have helped strawberry flowering and ripening to occur a little more gradually, the organisation revealed, which has produced larger, juicier berries.  

Nick Marston, chairman of British Summer Fruits, said: “This year strawberries have developed a little more slowly than usual. The recent cooler weather is resulting in tasty but also larger and juicier British strawberries than previous years.

'We are excited that our continuously advancing growing techniques, such as large-scale glasshouse production for season extension, means we can offer shoppers these locally grown fresh berries for more of the year.” 

British consumers’ appetite for fresh strawberries shows no sign of slowing down. Over the past 12 months, shoppers spent some £772 million on strawberries, over 10 per cent more than the previous year, with 147,300 tonnes of strawberries purchased in a year, British Summer Fruits said. 

Around 70 per cent of all strawberries bought in the UK are now grown by British farmers, between May and October, the group added.     

Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries) now have the biggest market share of all fruit grown in the UK, making up an impressive 26 per cent, it added. This has pushed the value of the UK berry industry to an all-time high of £1.69 billion as fresh berries continue to be the most popular fruit item in shoppers’ baskets. 

 Dr Emma Derbyshire, public health nutritionist and adviser to British Summer Fruits said: “Strawberries are a great provider of vitamin C and have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory profiles – eating just nine strawberries (108g) can provide all of your recommended daily vitamin C intake.  As it’s now British strawberry season, it’s the perfect time to taste naturally sweet berries and reap their potential health benefits.”