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Bumper sales for strawberry growers

British strawberry sales have exceeded last year's levels despite the wettest summer for 100 years and the challenging conditions faced by growers.

Members of British Summer Fruits (BSF), the berry industry's largest crop association, have sold 37,978 tonnes of home-grown strawberries through UK supermarkets, compared with 37,966 tonnes this time last year.

Nearly all British strawberries supplied to UK supermarkets are grown under protective covers which have safeguarded the crop from this summer's unseasonably wet weather.

Strawberries, a perennial summer favourite, actually prefer and benefit from developing in cooler temperatures which produce more flavourful and juicier fruit, BSF said.

This summer's historic events - The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics - have encouraged peaks in consumption, according to BSF.

UK supermarkets have been stocking 100% home-grown strawberries since April and will do so until the season ends in early October. The industry is expecting to exceed total 2011 production of 49,591 tonnes.

In seven years total berry sales have more than doubled, rising from £342 million in 2004, to £761.1 million in 2011. The home-grown soft fruit market is worth £277 million, BSF said.

In 2011, 4,969 hectares-worth of strawberries were grown in the UK, up 45% since 2001.

British Summer Fruits is an organisation which represents 92% of berry growers in the UK.

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