Convenience retailers are already anticipating an extra juicy boost to sales this summer thanks to what is promising to be the best British cherry crop in years.
The mild winter combined with recent sunny weather, more widespread use of poly tunnels and smaller hardier trees, means that cherry growers could produce a record 4,500 tonnes of the fruit this year.
2014 had already hit new heights, with double the yield of 2013, and worth around £20m, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Buckinghamshire cherry farmer Liz Mount from English Cherries told Convenience Store: “We are anticipating a very good crop this year, even better than 2014 which was already a strong year for yield and quality.
“Our cherries are very high quality and so we sell them for £6.50 a kilo. That is more expensive than many supermarket prices but shoppers are happy to shell out a bit more for a superior product - particularly when it’s British.”
Retailer Colin Woods of Amberley Village stores in West Sussex is already anticipating the sales glut. “Fresh Kent cherries were a huge success story for us last season. We sold more than 60 punnets every week during June and July so I am looking forward to the 2015 crop hitting the shelves, especially if it is promising to be even larger and sweeter. We make a good margin on cherries but they are also an excellent footfall driver, with many shoppers visiting two or three times a week to buy new punnets,” he said.
The 2015 cherry season is expected to begin in mid June.
Retailers hoping to sell locally-produced or British cherries should purchase firm, shiny fruit with the stems in, Mount added.