The search for the Holy Grail of the carrot world appears to be over, after Marks and Spencer claimed this week it was the first retailer to achieve year-round British supply.
M&S said the development, which was down to weather conditions and revolutionary cross-breeding techniques, would allow it to avoid importing expensive out-of-season carrots from countries such as France.
Last month we reported how several retailers were striving to achieve year-round British carrot supply (The Grocer, June 25, p60). This week carrots grown in Suffolk started going into M&S stores, just as the Scottish winter crop was making its exit.
Phillip Symons, Marks and
Spencer’s carrot specialist, said: “The early summer often sees a gap between the end of the season in the north and the start of the season in the south.
“Both seasons have been extended, partly because of warmer weather over the years, which has helped Suffolk growers to harvest several weeks earlier. Suffolk also has light, sandy soils which warm quickly, allowing carrots to grow faster.
“At the same time, Scottish growers have extended their winter season. The soil in Scotland is generally heavier and clay-based, which feeds the crop slowly and enables it to continue beyond the normal season to the end of June.
“This has been helped even further by covering the crop in hay and protecting it from light, which means it can stay in the ground for longer without being damaged by the sun’s rays.
“Over the years the period with no UK-grown carrots has gradually diminished from a few weeks to a few days and has now been eradicated.”
David Martin, vice-chair of the British Carrot Growers Association, said: “Unlike France, we don’t use pesticides - which is another reason not to import them.”
Richard Clarke