British Berry Growers praises discounter for huge volume sales increase

Lidl has been named retailer of the year by British Berry Growers.

The award, which was announced at the crop association’s annual retailer event in London before Christmas, came after Lidl posted a total increase of 18.3% in volume sales across all berries.

This compared to a 1.1% decline in British Berry Growers members’ UK sales to multiples and a fall in the overall UK market volume of 6.8% for the 2022 UK berry season.

Chairman Nick Marston said: “On behalf of British Berry Growers, I’d like to thank the retailers for attending the event and congratulate Lidl on their outstanding performance in the category. Lidl’s success serves as a reminder that an increasing number of shoppers will still buy and enjoy berries as an affordable luxury.”

New board members 

At the event, new appointees to the British Berry Growers board, Anthea McIntyre and Dr Louise Sutherland, shared updates on the work the crop association has carried out in recent months on policy and R&D, following the ending of the AHDB levy.

Also in attendance was Joe Shaw Roberts, consumer insight director at Kantar, who shared key insight from the category and sobering figures that revealed how growers’ sales volumes are being impacted by retail inflation.

The latest Kantar data showed 11% retail inflation across strawberries, which compares unfavourably with what British Berry Growers noted was a 0% average year-on-year return increase seen by growers.

Last spring, British Berry Growers commissioned a report from Anderson’s Farm Business Consultancy which put the strain on growers into sharp focus. The data showed a minimum inflation in growers’ costs of 15% for 2022, bringing the total cost inflation for growers over two years to 26% minimum.

Marston added: “The 2022 UK berry season was without doubt the most challenging we have seen for decades. In the last 12 months alone, growers have faced huge, unexpected labour cost hikes and ongoing production cost increases alongside the much-documented retail inflation.

“Inflated retails meant a decline in volume sales, resulting in growers left with unsold fruit that sadly then goes to waste. As such, we’re calling for an equitable share of margin between retailers and growers, and a return that will make growers’ businesses sustainable.”