LONDON, June 5, 2017 /PRNewswire/ --
Today marks the official start to the British Strawberry season with growers predicting a six percent increase in production of the iconic fruit this year.
The cool, dry winter, coupled with recent warm weather, which saw temperatures rise to 26C in one of the hottest days of the year, has created the perfect growing conditions for this year's crop of strawberries. The deliciously juicy and slow-ripened strawberries are now on supermarket shelves in abundance, helping to meet the increasing consumer demand for one of the UK's favourite fruits.
Over the past year, more than 126000 tonnes of strawberries were sold in the UK, with shoppers spending more than £580 million on the delectable berry. The consumption of fresh berries, which includes strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, has grown by an impressive 132 percent since 2007, outstripping the 49 percent increase of fruit consumption as a whole.
The steady rise in demand comes from an increase in the number of health-conscious shoppers, who are recognising the serious nutritional punch berries pack for every calorie consumed. Berries now make up a remarkable 22 percent of all fruit sold in the UK, and this has pushed the value of the berry industry above £1.2 billion. Where apples and bananas were once the traditional, staple fruit, fresh berries are now the most popular fruit item in shoppers' baskets.
Dr Emma Derbyshire, British Summer Fruits' public health nutritionist, explained: "Berries are a great healthy, summer snack which is backed up by one of the largest bodies of research. They are an abundant source of vitamins, minerals and phyto (plant) nutrients which have been linked to a diverse range of health benefits. New Imperial research recently highlighted that we may need to strive for 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day to lower chronic disease risk. Snacking on punnets of berries this summer - be it at a picnic, barbeque or when on a lunch break, is a great and easy way to boost our fruit intake for adults and kids alike."
Innovation in growing technique has ensured this season's quintessential British crop will be a mouth-watering treat. Amongst the many varieties available on shelves will be Malling Centenary, Sweet Eve, Sonata, Elsanta, Driscoll's Zara and Ava Joy.
Laurence Olins, Chairman of British Summer Fruits, the industry body that represents 98 percent of berries sold in UK supermarkets said: "This season's strawberry production reflects a robust and expanding soft fruit category that is able to meet the growing consumer demand."
"More and more people understand the fantastic health benefits of snacking on a punnet of berries, and fortunately we have been able to match this growing demand with innovation in the industry, to ensure consumers can look forward to good quality British berries on their supermarket shelves."
SOURCE British Summer Fruits