Sales of UK berries brushed aside the poor summer weather to post value growth of 38% this year, new industry figures have revealed.
British Summer Fruits, which represents more than 90% of UK berry growers, said supermarket sales of British berries had rocketed to more than £282m over the past 12 months, as shoppers bought 59,000 tonnes of fruit. By contrast, retail sales in 2006 only clocked up £204m on some 53,000 tonnes of fruit.
"It has been a very challenging season with record rainfall coupled to months of grey skies, which dampened demand levels during the summer peak," said Laurence Olins, chairman of British Summer Fruits. "Thankfully, polytunnels saved the harvest and the future of the industry. Considering the wet weather, the sales are impressive."
Growing demand for home-grown product is one of the main factors behind rising berry sales, added Olins.
"It has been rising for the past 13 years and now outstrips supply for much of the year. This rise has largely been attributable to the high quality of the berries and a sustained promotional campaign seeking to raise awareness of the health and nutritional benefits of the fruits."
Raspberries were the fastest-growing berry this year, according to the sales data. Consumers spent an extra 70% on the fruit to hit value sales of £60m, while volumes crept up 7% to 6,200 tonnes.
Blackberries also performed strongly, with value sales rising 44% to hit nearly £6m, and volumes up to 771 tonnes. The lion's share of the category is still devoted to strawberries, but even here, sales rose 23% in value to £216m. Volume sales rose by a smaller 12% to 52,000 tonnes.
Increasing premiumisation and higher shelf prices accounted for the difference between rocketing value sales and slower-growing volumes.