As the British raspberry season launches, industry experts reveal that it is set to become one of the UK’s fastest-growing soft fruits, with commercial production up by 370 per cent in the last decade.
The volume of raspberries sold has grown by more than double the rate of the soft fruit category in total, which has increased by 170 per cent.
British Summer Fruits, the industry body that represents 98 per cent of our growers, is already reporting a very early season, with a 300 per cent spike in sales compared to last year.
Early tastings of this year’s fruit also suggest that the crop will be sweeter and juicier than previous years due to the fifth warmest winter on record and the high light levels during the spring increasing the rate of photosynthesis.
Laurence Olins, Chairman of British Summer Fruits, said:
“The UK market has grown rapidly – in the last ten years. Sales have nearly tripled and growers have increased their acreage.
This year we are confident that with the introduction of new varieties which consistently deliver exceptional taste and look great, British raspberries will be even more popular with consumers.”
The fruit is well-known for its health benefits with studies suggesting that they can help boost fertility, while also helping with skin and heart health due to their high level of antioxidants.
Blueberries were the UK’s fastest growing soft fruit but this year raspberries have climbed back to the top.
The powerhouse fruit has seen a year on year growth of 9.8%, closely followed by Blueberries at 9.25% but staying ahead of both Strawberries 8.5% and Blackberries 3%.
Already this year’s British raspberry season is breaking records and is forecast to top the 8,225 tonnes sold last year by 15%.
Anthony Snell, who owns AJ and CI Snell farm in Hereford, said:
“We are expecting an exceptional year for British raspberries. We are already picking good volumes of the fruit and expect to produce at least 300 tonnes this season which we supply to supermarkets.
“We have had a mild winter and warm spring, which has encouraged a huge amount of extra bee activity and better pollination. Good pollination is vital for high-quality, perfect shaped fruit, and the good sunshine levels will mean that the fruit will have a great flavour.”
The British raspberry season was just six weeks long 25 years ago, but decades of industry investment in new varieties and protective covers, means that consumers can enjoy the fruit in to November.