English strawberries will eventually be available all year round, according to Norfolk grower Peter Wensak.
Wensak’s first fruit was picked up by distributor the SummerFruit Company this week, a fortnight earlier than usual and in time for Easter. The strawberries are on sale in 180 Sainsbury stores.
The 200g punnets, which are packed under the Taste the Difference label, are priced at £2.99.
Sainsbury is targeting sales of 6,000 packs in the first week.
Mark Baxter, Sainsbury product technologist, said it was possible to charge a premium over cheaper Spanish and Moroccan imports, which are now in full flood, because of the reputation that English strawberries had for flavour.
Wensak, who specialises in fruit grown in glasshouses, produces three crops a year, which fill the seasonal gaps in the winter and summer.
He is so convinced of the potential for English strawberries that this year he increased the capacity of his two nurseries by 20%. They are now capable of producing around 1,000 tonnes annually.