British berries enjoy juiciest season yet
As the British summer draws to an end, typical summer fruits are still going strong with production increases and a sharp rise in purchases, especially for raspberries and strawberries. Here we take a closer look at the British berry industry going from strength to strength, with sales across all soft fruit categories from all countries expected to top £1 billion (US$1.5 billion) this year.
Health-conscious consumers are tapping into Britain's thriving berry market as the trend for liquidizing berries in for homemade smoothies continues to grow. The U.K.'s penchant for berries as an on-the-go nutritious snack is also going strong.
Trade body British Summer Fruits (BSF) predicts up to 14,000 metric tons (MT) of raspberries are expected this season, representing a 31% increase on the 11,000MT produced last year.
Over the last five years, British raspberry production has seen a steady rise with the total volume up by 50% since 2010, while strawberry production has grown 30% during this time.
From 2013 to 2014 alone, the total volume of British raspberries produced rose from 8,763MT to 10,746MT, marking a year-on-year increase of 22%.
BSF anticipates further planting, above the current 890 hectares (2,200 acres) dedicated to raspberry cultivation in Britain, to cope with increasing demand.
Strawberry fields forever
Meanwhile in the strawberry category, BSF says growth is just as strong and is predicting a £325 million (US$499 million) record year of strawberry sales in 2015, against 2014’s previous record of £275 million (US$422 million).
Approximately 76,000MT of strawberries will be produced this year, beating last year’s total volume of 64,000MT.
Putting the growth into perspective, BSF emphasizes that 25 years ago Britain’s strawberry season lasted just six weeks with limited availability. Today, British strawberries are available from March to December, driven by an increasing demand from consumers and major developments in climate controlled glasshouses across the country.
"Sales of British strawberries reveal a robust and expanding soft fruit category that is meeting growing consumer demand through modern growing innovations and higher yields," BSF chairman Laurence Olins says.
"The berry industry as a whole, continues to expand and U.K strawberry growers are producing increasing volumes of quality strawberries."