Berry fruit sales grew overall this summer in spite of variable weather, according to figures revealed at the industry’s annual conference this week.
KG Fruits MD Nick Marsden said strawberry production had risen from 37,000 to 44,900 tonnes this year. Everbearers had increased by 40%, helping to extend the season.
“It’s all going the right way,” he said. “Price offers are bringing in new customers and we estimate there is still underlying growth of 10% annually per head.”
Strawberries represent the bulk of berry sales but raspberries consolidated their second place ranking despite a difficult season, said Lochy Porter of Angus Fruit Sales.
There had been exceptional
growth in some retailers, which at certain times of the year was as high as 150%, he claimed.
This was despite an estimated 100 tonnes being unsold in July, which he admitted represented a lost opportunity. “Growers still need to understand the market better,” he added.
Some of the most significant growth seen was by blueberries. Despite starting from a smaller base the market has risen in value from £6.6m in 2002 to £16.7m this season. Most are imported, although small-scale UK production is expanding. Adam Olins, MD of BerryWorld, said competition from Eastern Europe was a concern.
Blackberries have continued to expand, rising from £1.5m to £3.3m over the year, with seasonal gaps filled by Spain.
British Summer Fruits chairman Laurence Olins said some multiples performed better in the sector than others.
Sales at Tesco, Sainsbury, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose grew he said, in contrast to those at Asda and Safeway.
British Summer Fruits, which accounts for 98% of sales through supermarkets, monitors each retailer’s performance and then shares weekly sales figures between them.
David Shapley