Tesco Real Food has announced that Britain’s spring heat wave has led to the biggest and best quality English strawberry crop for 20 years growers have reported.
The glut of English strawberries – considered by experts to be the best in the world– will result in an estimated 50 per cent reduction in UK retailers bringing in imports.
Experts say that Britain’s warmer than usual March and April heat wave produced perfect growing conditions resulting in the crop being at least two weeks earlier than usual and the extra sunshine has also increased sugar levels making the current crop much sweeter and juicier than normal.
Tesco strawberry buyer Paul Jones said: “The unexpected great weather means an abundance of top quality, sweeter than normal English strawberries – of the standard normally associated with Wimbledon fortnight.
“As the quality is so high we’ve taken far more of the English crop than we usually do at this time of year.
“From the start of May we will be predominantly selling just English strawberries and the need not to import Spanish imports allows us to keep the price down.
“This is fantastic news for the English strawberry industry and should see them getting an unexpected windfall from increased orders from UK retailers.”
One of England’s largest strawberry growers, R and V Emery, which is based near Southampton, Hampshire, said it was the earliest start to the English strawberry season for about 20 years.
Vernon Emery, who runs the business with his brother Richard, said: “Our production yield is up by 150 per cent on recent years and if the good weather continues and we get some rain too we could be heading for a record year.
“The extra warmth has helped boost sugar levels but equally important have been good levels of light which have helped the fruit set and encouraged bees to pollinate the plants.
“The great weather has also been consistent without dips in temperature which would have hampered the quality.”
Since the start of the English strawberry season Tesco has sold 50 per cent more home grown strawberries than it did over the same period last year.