Hopes were mounting this week that the EU's winter strawberry shortage could be alleviated, after a relaxation in the trade embargo between Israel and Gaza Strip.

Up to 2,000 tonnes of fruit grown by Palestinian farmers had been set to rot in the fields, because it couldn't be moved across the border for export by Agrexco.

But now the Kerem Shalom crossing has been opened, enabling trade to resume. The UK relies on some 500 tonnes of Gazan berries every winter.

Amos Orr, UK general manager of Agrexco, said progress was slow and could by hampered by quality difficulties, because of a lack of chilling facilities at the gate.