Continuing poor weather across the Mediterranean has slowed strawberry harvesting so that the build up expected, particularly from Morocco and Spain, has been lighter than anticipated. What fruit has been available is being carefully graded because there are more misshapen berries than normal. In addition planting in the Huelva region has dropped because of poor returns last season, with the reduction estimated at 25% or 6,000 hectares by the producers' organisation Freshhuelva. As a result, the crop is expected to reach around 265,000 tonnes by the end of May. The harvesting in Israel and Egypt, which began earlier, is little better, despite a strong UK demand. The two countries have the potential to supply fruit for another six weeks. l Rhubarb may be dissimilar to soft fruit, but many multiples sell it as an adjunct. But here, too, weather conditions in the UK have created a difficult season with the forced crop being held back in the early part of the year. Main varieties such as Victoria, Albert and Stockbridge Arrow are on stream and the start of the first outdoor crop is due in early March. Sources predict more of a clash than usual. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}