British Summer Fruits reports blueberry-fuelled increase in soft fruit sales

British Summer Fruits (BSF) has reported that soft fruit sales by its members were 17.2 per cent greater this summer than last -- thanks in part to the rising popularity of blueberries.

The industry body, whose members supply more than 92 per cent of UK supermarkets' berries, said they sold 58,400 tonnes of soft fruit this season.

Sales of blueberries — a relatively new UK crop as British growers start to embrace a fruit traditionally grown overseas — rose by 305 per cent, with 1,139 tonnes sold.

BSF said new eating varieties bearing larger-sized fruit contributed to the success. It predicted that if the crop growth continues at these levels, the industry can expect sales of blueberries to challenge raspberries as Britain's second favourite berry.

BSF chairman Laurence Olins said: "It has been a strong summer for all berries. We have seen great support from the consumer and the retailers. This, combined with settled weather and increased volumes of crops, has allowed the industry to deliver a long and successful summer season."

He added: "Blueberries are the real success story of the summer and we believe there is a lot more to come next year as our British farmers embrace this fruit. Following poor weather in 2008, we are pleased to be back on track with these impressive sales figures."

Blackberries also experienced a record year, with sales up by 33 per cent on last year's figures.

BSF explained that the surge in popularity and sales of these berries was partly due to an increase in crops planted, which has resulted in an extended season as British blackberries were available from June to October. The organisation also attributed the success of blackberries this year to the introduction of new, better eating varieties.

Following a poor season last year, strawberries also saw a growth in sales of 17 per cent, selling a total of 48,770 tonnes.

Raspberries showed an increase of three per cent, with sales of 7,011 tonnes.

A BSF representative said the surge in overall sales was due in part to this year's improved growing conditions.

"Unlike the very wet and poor light conditions suffered by many berry farms last year, this year's crop has enjoyed no frosts in spring, warmer weather in summer and good pollinating conditions, resulting in better-quality crops. Demand for berries continues to grow year on year.

"The rise (in sales) is largely due to an extension of the season — both at the beginning and end — high quality of berries, availability of new varieties and a sustained promotional campaign highlighting the seasons of all British berries and their health benefits."


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