British Asparagus campaign sees sales rise by 22 per cent

Sales of British asparagus increased by 22 per cent this year despite a delayed start to the season because of the cold weather.

Figures from Kantar TNS showed that during a 12-week period ending on 12 July, sales reached £21.4m - a 22 per cent increase on last year's figure.

The volume sold also increased by 29 per cent to nearly 3m kg - while the proportion of households buying the product increased by 22 per cent to 16.2 per cent in 2010. The frequency of purchase increased by six per cent.

Asparagus growers and packers welcomed the news at the end of July, when they met to review the season and its PR campaign. Graham Young of Sussex-based Barfoots of Botley said: "We all have increased area of planting for the 2011 season and beyond and we look forward to the challenge of continuing to grow the category."

Worcestershire-based asparagus grower Paul Southall said: "The increase in households buying asparagus from under three per cent less than a decade ago to more than 16 per cent today speaks volumes, as does the increased awareness by the customer of when UK asparagus is available and of its superiority over imported asparagus.

"As growers we need to be confident that what we produce will be demanded, especially with a product such as asparagus that is very expensive to establish and ties up ground for many years. The impetus given to the crop by the British asparagus promotion has given us that confidence."

The 2010 British Asparagus Campaign - funded by asparagus growers - also enjoyed success this season. This year its focus was to communicate the skill and effort required to produce the difficult crop as well as its superior taste and unique seasonality.

It generated more than 200 pieces of directly-attributable editorial coverage and an advertising value equivalent for its print coverage of £1.2m widespread national and regional broadcast coverage.

Meanwhile, the number of visitors to the website was up by 25 per cent this year.

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