Retailers are reporting a massive surge in strawberry sales now that the season is in full swing.
Production is up 11% to 74,000 tonnes this year, and sales have soared since the start of the annual Wimbledon Tennis championships which are now in their second week.
Strawberries are outselling milk, bread and tea at Sainsbury’s, with customers buying 95 punnets a minute.
Sainsbury’s technical manager for soft fruits Peter Czarnobaj said strawberries were one of the most important products to get right at this time of year.
“Once we come into the British strawberry season, we would expect them to remain the top pick in customers’ baskets for around five months,” he added.
Meanwhile, Will Williams, interim head of fresh at Blakemore Trade Partners, said sales of strawberries through independent stores were up approximately 12% so far this year and outperforming the produce category as a whole.
Paul Freemantle, fresh produce trading controller at James Hall & Co, said strawberry sales were currently up 25% when comparing early May to June.
Darren Given, of Spar Classic Service Station, Omagh, also said that strawberry sales were growing week on week. “We always get a lift in sales when Wimbledon is on and now that we have Irish strawberries we tend to see a big demand for the local produce. This often helps fresh cream sales too,” he said.
Local strawberries are also flying off the shelves at Greens of Markinch in Scotland thanks to a promotional price of £1.99 for a punnet, eye-catching POS and a Facebook campaign.
Kent strawberry grower Marion Regan, from Hugh Lowe Farms in Mereworth, said: “Despite a warmer than average winter and a cooler, wetter spring and early summer, strawberry crops have grown well. The cooler conditions have allowed the berries to develop good flavour and the new systems of growing, on table tops, mean they are less susceptible to problems caused by damp weather.”