Growers hail bumper strawberry crop
A bumper British strawberry crop is set to hit shop shelves despite the recent weeks of rain, growers have said.
An unseasonably warm March and cool April have combined to deliver "sweet and flavourful" berries, according to an industry body.
British Summer Fruits said that protective polytunnels, which have been the subject of steady investment in the past two decades, had helped produce this year's crop.
The group assured consumers that they would be able to buy British strawberries in the run-up to the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics.
Locally-grown strawberries are already starting to appear in supermarkets, with the British season likely to peak in late June and last until October.
Berries now account for 18.4% of all fruit sales in British supermarkets, with year-on-year sales to August 2011 increasing by 13.3%, according to figures from Kantar Worldpanel.
The UK berry market is worth £783 million.
British Summer Fruits chairman Laurence Olins said: "Twenty years ago the summer strawberry crop would have been decimated by the recent inclement weather, but thanks to two decades of investment in protection from the elements the entire crop is safe.
"We are expecting the effect of the warmth of March and cool April to combine to deliver sweet and flavourful berries.
"The crop is likely to be up 10% from last year, the result of increased plantings in response to consumer demand."