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Worth the wait: Why This Year's Strawberries Are Sweeter Than Ever

The British strawberry season is finally underway, two weeks late - after unseasonably cold, wet weather led to slower development of the fruit.


Credit: Berry Farms/Matt Munro Photography

But experts say the harvest is worth the wait - as the slowed growth has led to larger and more flavourful strawberries.


Protected under polytunnels, the crops did not suffer damage from the lack of warmth and sunlight. Rather, the more gradual growth has fortified the plants, allowing them to support bigger, juicier berries.


"It will be a fantastic year for British strawberries," says Nick Marston, the Chairman of British Berry Growers - the industry body which represents 95% of berries supplied to UK supermarkets.


It's been the eighth wettest winter on record for the UK, following a series of storms which battered the nation.


The arrival of spring saw further downpours, with England and Wales recording more than 150% of their average monthly rainfall.


But although that rain caused delays in the season, it has also led to more good news for strawberry fans this summer.


Fresh berries - such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries - continue to be the most popular fruit with Brits.


And developments in growing techniques mean that the UK is now self-sufficient for the whole summer season, lasting from May to late October.


But British Berry Growers say that despite high global demand for British strawberries, exports have dropped 79% in volume since 2020.


This is due to new trade barriers introduced since Brexit, including health certificates and additional customs paperwork - as well as delays in shipments which can affect product quality.


"It is nonsensical that despite having some of the world's most in-demand berries that we are unable to compete in the global market due to red tape," said Mr Marston, "As a nation, we must capitalise on this great export opportunity."


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