M&S has shrugged off the freezing temperatures to become the first retailer to introduce English asparagus this year.

The retailer will sell a new, early variety of the vegetable priced £2.99 this week - a month before the start of the traditional asparagus season.

The delicacy, grown in Herefordshire in the Wye Valley by M&S grower John Chinn, was cultivated using a pioneering polytunnel growing method that harnesses the sun’s energy, instead of generating artificial heat, to stimulate crop growth in a cold climate.

“There is always an air of excitement when the first British asparagus comes into season,” M&S vegetable buyer Louisa Read said. “We are really pleased to be offering our customers English asparagus over a month before the start of the traditional season, despite the recent freezing temperatures.”

Chinn added: “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.”