Favourable growing conditions have resulted in an early bumper British strawberry crop for 2014, providing sweet sales for many convenience store retailers.
Thanks to the mild winter and recent warm weather, ample supplies are hitting shelves almost a month earlier than last year.
Growers estimate that there will be a 10% increase in production compared with last year, while industry body British Summer Fruits expects berries to taste sweeter and juicier than normal.
Last weekend saw the Dike & Sons Stalbridge store in Dorset sell more than 600 punnets of early British strawberries, helped along by the warm weather and World Cup. “The crop is particularly sweet and juicy this year and shoppers can’t resist. It should lead to even juicier sales later on when the Wimbledon and Glastonbury season sets in,” director Adam Vincent added.
Nisa retailer Rav Garcha has witnessed early British strawberry sales and is enjoying margins of up to 50%. He said: “The supermarkets have invested in a huge amount of TV advertising for their British strawberries and this has had a positive knock-on effect for us.”
He added: “Strawberry sales have spiked in the past week as they were much more front of mind for shoppers. And once they realise how extra sweet and juicy the berries are they have been coming back for more.”
Sales have also been driving associated purchases of chilled goods such as cream and other salad items, Rav added.
Ramesh Shingadia of Londis in Southwater, Horsham, has had the same experience. He said: “I’m offering a 400g punnet for £2 and can’t get them in quick enough. They also prompt sales of other soft British fruits such as raspberries, which are also early this year.”