The start of the British raspberry season is delivering bigger and sweeter fruit than previous years thanks to the warm and settled spring, producers say.
Growers say the season has begun with 65% more British raspberries on supermarket shelves compared to the same period last year, when the weather was poorer.
This spring was the fifth warmest on record for the UK, thanks largely to record-breaking overnight temperatures which suited berry growers well.
Ambient temperatures this month have provided “optimal” raspberry-growing conditions, meaning that the fruit can ripen to maximum taste and size.
Nick Marston, the chairman of British Berry Growers, the industry body for the British berry industry, said: “The upcoming season looks great for consumers. The warmer, earlier start to spring was ideal for the young raspberry plants and the recent weather is just right to produce excellent crops.
“The British raspberry industry has seen substantial growth in recent years thanks to the hard work and expertise of British growers. The introduction of substrate growing systems and the development of new varieties are excellent examples of this, and the results of that innovation can now be enjoyed by Brits.”
The leading raspberry varieties now grown in the UK can fruit for up to five months, compared to traditional types that typically produced fruit for just four to six weeks.
The extended fruit period means consumers can buy British raspberries from the start of June through to the end of October.
The NHS lists two handfuls of raspberries as making up one of the recommended ‘five-a-day’ portions of fruit and vegetables in a healthy diet.
Last year Britons bought more than 12,500 tonnes of British-grown raspberries.
The UK raspberry market is now worth more than £364 million year round, while the UK berry market as a whole is now worth more than £1.6 billion.