First commercial quantities of UK strawberries set to hit supermarket shelves

Great news for British strawberry fans – the first commercial quantities of UK grown strawberries will hit supermarket shelves this week.

After months of seemingly non-stop rain, the weather finally perked up last week with temperatures in the high teens and enough sunshine to initially deliver more than 150 tonnes of fruit – equal to roughly 375,000 punnets.

And from today (Thursday) those punnets will begin to hit Tesco shelves in West and East Sussex, with surrounding counties likely to follow on next week, depending on the weather.

Tesco strawberry buyer Callum Baker said:

“There’s nothing like the start of the British strawberry season to put a smile on people’s faces, especially after all the rain we’ve had for so long now.

“There is always a lot of excitement about the first British strawberries being picked because their arrival means that summer is not too far away. And of course there is with plenty to look forward to with such a summer of sport ahead, including Wimbledon, the event most associated with strawberries.

“This is brilliant news for customers as British strawberries are considered to be among the best in the world, thanks to our great growing conditions.

“If the weather stays relatively good from now then we’ll seen UK-wide availability of British grown strawberries by mid-May but obviously if temperatures rise a bit and we get more sunshine then that could come sooner.”

The strawberry variety going into Tesco stores is called Malling Centenary and has been chosen for its superb eating quality and flavour. It has a vivid colour and produces large berries that are not too crunchy.

The strawberries were grown by Summer Berry Company, based in Colworth, near Chichester, West Sussex and supplied to Tesco by berry and stone fruit specialists DPS.

Summer Berry Company’s Commercial Director Jack Darnes said that strawberry production was a fine balancing act between light and temperature.

Jack Darnes said:

“This year so far is a good example – temperatures are higher on average than in the last five years, but light levels are lower than last five year average.

“We’ve seen some crops come earlier, but with that has resulted in a lower brix or sugar level at the start. Things are more stable now, we have not necessarily seen a big flush of fruit when the sun comes out, as temps have been relatively stable.”

The 400g punnets of UK grown strawberries will cost £2.20 each.


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