Wettest harvest for 40 years but sales still up Strawberry sales sweet despite summer rains English strawberry growers have suffered the wettest harvesting conditions for 40 years, according to industry experts. Speaking last week at annual trade show Fruit Focus, Nicholas Marston, managing director of specialist marketing organisation KG Fruits, said they had still been able to sell more than 23% extra strawberries in value to the end of July. The outlook for the rest of the season was promising, he added. Everbearer production is now starting to build in volume and crops look in excellent condition, with more acres being grown under protection. He added that, in its 30th year, the organisation had seen its supermarket share grow from 79.9% last season to 81.1%. Its 71 members will have an estimated turnover ­ including other fruit ­ of £67m in 2002. The event also heralded the launch of the Jubilee variety to the rest of the trade. The first fruit was presented to the Queen in association with Marks and Spencer ­ the retailer has exclusive rights to sell the variety. Marston added: "We believe it is the most exciting variety since Elsanta." The rights are owned by California-based Driscoll Strawberry Associates with whom KG has a growing and marketing agreement. Looking to the future, KG chairman Angus Davison said the industry was concerned about considerable cost increases due to the recently proposed wages legislation. The show also saw the arrival of a new raspberry variety called Octavia, bred by British scientists, and the launch of a website by Berryworld. This provides background information for prospective customers and a confidential regular update on supply and marketing conditions for its grower members (www. berryworld.co.uk). {{FRESH PRODUCE }}