One of the UK’s biggest fruit suppliers is paying its foreign fruit pickers less than half minimum wage, according to press reports.

Workers at S&A Produce – which supplies fruit to Tesco and Sainsbury’s – are officially paid the national minimum wage of £5.74 but employee pay slips obtained by The Independent revealed the actual hourly rate being paid was often half that sum after obligatory charges were removed.

One Bulgarian strawberry-picker gave the newspaper a payslip of £45.12 for 19 hours work – equating to just £2.37 an hour.

But the deductions were necessary to provide the fruit pickers with accommodation and entertainment facilities, claimed Rebecca Edmonds, a spokeswoman for S&A.

“We try to make it as clear as we can that we cannot guarantee the number of days or hours worked because of the seasonal nature of fruit picking,” she said.

A Sainsbury’s spokesman added: “We are meeting with our supplier to assess the situation and understand the basis of these allegations.”