John Chinn - Asparagus Grower

John Chinn has used a new growing technique for his asparagus

Marks & Spencer started selling the first British asparagus of the season this week - three weeks earlier than last year.

A mild winter and a new growing technique used by its supplier John Chinn - involving new cold-resistant varieties and growing the veg under tunnels - had allowed it to get UK-grown asparagus on shelves much earlier this year, M&S said.

The traditional UK asparagus season does not typically kick off until late March/early April.

“We are really excited to have our British asparagus ready this early as it means M&S customers can enjoy this lovely delicacy a whole month longer than the traditional season,” said Chinn. “We really want to drive the British asparagus industry forward and do this in the most sustainable and natural way.”

M&S buyer Louisa Read added: “There is always an air of excitement when the first British asparagus comes into season as it signals the beginning of spring. This year our customers will be able to enjoy it even sooner - three weeks earlier than last year.”

The products in M&S stores are UK asparagus tips (£3 for 100g), UK asparagus spears (£3 for 200g) and UK extra fine asparagus (£3 for 125g).

M&S said demand for asparagus had soared in recent weeks, with sales of imported asparagus up by 24% in the most recent four-week period. The retailer attributed the increase to shoppers “getting in the mood for spring foods”.