Supermarket supplier Fresca Group has boosted its position in the berry market by purchasing a stake in strawberry specialist Wallings Nursery.

Fresca bought a 40% share in Essex-based Wallings Nursery this week as part of a management buyout following the retirement of the company's owners.

A leading UK strawberry producer, Wallings grows the fruit under 29,000 sq metres of glasshouse and 20,000 sq metres of polytunnels. Fresca subsidiary Mack Multiples, which supplies the leading supermarkets, began supplying berries to its retail customers last year and expects to expand that.

"It's very hard to come into the UK berry market as a new player without a contracted supply base, and we've had such strong early success with securing retailer orders that we very swiftly concluded that we wanted to consolidate our place in a partnership with a grower," said Fresca executive chairman Chris Mack.

Fresca will market all the fruit from Wallings to the retail sector.