Farmers encourage public to buy glut of British berries

19 May 2020, 08:27 AM
  • Growers face an oversupply of the highly-perishable fruit
Farmers encourage public to buy glut of British berries

Nothing quite says summer in the UK like vibrant berries. But with seasonal events like Wimbledon having been cancelled, demand for UK-grown berries is likely to dwindle.

That’s why farmers are now calling on Brits to eat their fill of strawberries and other seasonal soft fruits, fearing a berry glut is on the horizon.

Strawberry-picking season in the UK is already underway, and typically peaks in June and July. With summer events that would typically use up a large chunk of the harvest no longer going ahead, farmers and trade bodies are concerned about fresh berries going to waste. It comes after a bumper harvest of British berries following the record warm temperatures in April.

“It’s not just Wimbledon, it’s all the big sporting events,” Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union, said. “Formula One, cricket Test matches, football – they are huge outside events and all are cancelled. For caterers and the wholesale trade, that market has just gone.”

To help avoid an oversupply, the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has said it is working to seek other ways of getting berries into the supply chain to support British growers. Meanwhile, British Summer Fruits has announced that it will double its marketing and public relations spend to push fresh British berries to the forefront of people’s minds.

Nick Marston, chair of British Summer Fruits, said: “We are encouraging people to get out in their gardens, give fresh berries to their children and knock a tennis ball around as they might do anyway during Wimbledon.”

In 2018, the most recent year that figures were made available, the UK produced 132,000 tonnes of strawberries alone, whilst raspberry production reached 15,000 tonnes.

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