Soft fruit industry celebrates record-breaking strawberry crop

The soft fruit industry is celebrating a record-breaking strawberry crop - the volumes of which are so far eight per cent greater than last year.

2014 has been a record year for British strawberries
2014 has been a record year for British strawberries

British Summer Fruits, the organisation which represents 97 per cent of all the berries supplied to UK supermarkets, has revealed that 60,170 tonnes of the fruit have already been produced in 2014.

More fruit is expected to make this tonnage even greater as growers are still producing the fruit and expect the season to continue into December.

The season started in March, seven weeks earlier than last year, as a result of the unexpectedly mild winter.

This year’s record crop will have therefore run for around 38 weeks by the end of the season – more than two thirds of the year.

British growers have also benefited from a 98 per cent market share at the peak of the season, a result of the successful replacement of imports.

Laurence Olins, chairman of British Summer Fruits, said: "Due to the industry’s investment in new varieties, increased planting and the growing use of glasshouses, we have been able to meet a growing demand from consumers."

Anthony Snell, who runs AJ & CI Snell farm with his wife Christine in Herefordshire, said:

"Thanks to the fantastic growing conditions that we’ve seen throughout the year, we have been able to provide flavoursome, sweet strawberries starting in spring and continuing all the way into mid-autumn.

"We use polytunnels to protect our crops and this crucially meant that the crop and soil were protected throughout the season, so they could grow naturally without any damage."

Strawberry growing is now being hailed as a success story of the British produce industry.

Just 25 years ago, prior to the introduction of polytunnels and other new technologies, the British season lasted for just six weeks and had a market share of around 10 per cent.

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