A cool, dry winter and recent balmy temperatures means the UK is in for a strawberry surge, growers have predicted.
As the official British strawberry season kicks off today, farmers are expecting a six per cent rise in the number of strawbs produced in Blighty.
Millions of Brits have jumped on board the 'berry bus in recent years. Consumption of strawberries has increased by 132 per cent since 2007, compared with a 49 per cent increase in more general fruit consumption.
The little red beauties now make up 22 per cent of all fruit sold in the UK, making it a £1.2bn sector, according to statistics prepared by Kantar.
And the strawberry pips all others to the best loved berry title. Shoppers spent more than £580m in the past year on the Wimbledon favourites, devouring over 126,000 tonnes of them.
"Berries are a great healthy, summer snack which is backed up by one of the largest bodies of research," said British Summer Fruits’ public health nutritionist Dr Emma Derbyshire.
They are an abundant source of vitamins, minerals and phyto (plant) nutrients which have been linked to a diverse range of health benefits.
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Chairman of British Summer Fruits Laurence Olins added: “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.”