Financial analyst Plimsoll has predicted that the average growth of fresh produce businesses will be as high as five per cent this year despite poor weather resulting in a difficult 2012.

The Plimsoll Portfolio Analysis, which looked into the financial performance of the UK's largest 1,000 fresh produce companies, says that growth will be driven by a quarter of the industry - an elite band of 242 companies - which will grow at a rate of 26 per cent compared to the industry average of five per cent.

David Pattison, chief analyst at Plimsoll said: “What seems to be different this time, compared to the last few years, is that this growth is coming profitably.

'Fresh produce firms are not only seeing increases in volume, but many of them are achieving this with increasing profitability.'