British berry set for European expansion

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British berry set for European expansion

British soft fruit breeder East Malling Research (EMR) has celebrated a successful first commercial season for its Malling Centenary strawberry variety in the U.K. by announcing plans to make the product available in a number of northern European markets.strawberries_ffp

Although only formally launched at this year’s Fruit Focus trade fair in Kent, England on June 24, Malling Centenary has been available commercially for several months, after EMR struck a deal with British retailer Sainsbury’s for exclusive use of the variety in 2013 and 2014.

EMR, which this year celebrated its 100th anniversary, said the variety was being sold in the U.K. through three leading soft fruit marketing companies, including Berry Gardens, which had recently formed the East Malling Strawberry Breeders Club.

Speaking at the event, EMR’s David Simpson said that following its initial success in the U.K., plans were now in place to begin production of the strawberry in continental Europe.

"Within EMR, we have three U.K. propagators and six on the continent that have licences for growing Malling Centenary plants. It’s already being trialed on mainland Europe and the first commercial plantings are likely to begin next year," he said.

According to Simpson, plantings are expected to take place in Belgium and the Netherlands, with further production in Germany and the Scandinavian countries likely to follow.

"We think Malling Centenary is a variety with a big future," he said.

"It delivers a very high percentage of Class 1 fruit – higher than El Santa – and is a good performer in different growing systems and is well adapted to both soil and soil-less production.

"The eating quality is consistently high with high sugar levels and it’s a very juicy berry with a very typical strawberry flavor. There are no foreign flavors in there."


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