British strawberry season starts as sales of soft fruits continue to soar

editorial image

Fresh fruits hit the shelves today on the official start of the season with growers predicting a £325 million record sales year in 2015.

Consumers can’t get enough of the great British berry thanks to their taste, which this year will be even more sweet and juicy, as a result of the sunniest winter since records began.

Britain enjoyed record levels of sunlight totalling 196 hours.

The MET office also reported the warmest day in April for four years, peaking at 25 degrees celsius. With longer periods of natural light the rate of photosynthesis has increased which means the plants have produced more sugars resulting in a sweet and juicy crop.

A recent National Farmers Union survey reported that 86 percent of shoppers are keen to buy food produced from British farms, supporting the growth in British strawberries.

The season has started 10 days later than in 2014 due to the colder nights in April. However, British Summer Fruits, the industry body that represent 98 percent of growers supplying supermarkets, predicts that 76,000 tonnes of strawberries will be produced this year, the equivalent weight of 6,333 double decker buses and topping last year’s record breaking year of 64,000 tonnes by 19 percent.

Laurence Olins, chairman of British Summer Fruits, said: “Sales of British strawberries reveal a robust and expanding soft fruit category that is meeting growing consumer demand through modern growing innovations and higher yields.

“The berry industry as a whole, continues to expand and UK strawberry growers are producing increasing volumes of quality strawberries. So consumers can look forward to ample quantities of strawberries on the supermarket shelves this summer.”

Father and son, Murray and Ross Mitchell, run the 700 acreage at Castleton Farm, just outside Laurencekirk. The farm has been in the family for over a century, producing an extraordinary range of soft fruit.

Ross said: “The cool, dry Scottish summer has encouraged the strawberries to ripen slowly, producing a delicious, sweet taste. Grown under poly tunnels, in fertile soil, we have extended the season of British strawberries extraordinarily and continue to produce impressive quantities.”