The Seasonal Berries
campaign, which was launched twelve years ago by grower cooperative British
Summer Fruits (BSF) to promote year-round berry consumption in the UK,
irrespective of produce origin, has been given a new name, brand identity and
The campaign will now be
called Love Fresh Berries as BSF chairman Nick Marston explained: “We felt that
‘seasonal’ had different permutations and connotations to people. Some people
felt it meant British, others felt it didn’t mean winter berries, and given the
availability of great-eating fruit from many places around the world through
the winter months, we felt it was appropriate to rename the campaign.”
The change of name
coincides with seasonal efforts to increase consumption over the winter months.
Love Fresh Berries spokesperson and dietician Sophie Medlin said, “We often
think of berries as being a summer fruit, but they are available all year round
which means that we can still benefit from the nutrients that they contain.
Berries are a great source of vitamin C which has been shown to shorten the
length of a cold. They also contain important antioxidants and polyphenols
which are excellent for our overall health.”
The new Love Fresh Berries
campaign can be found online at lovefreshberries.co.uk.
British Summer Fruits has warned that the latest official net migration figures from the Office of National Statistics are evidence of the damage that Brexit is causing to the UK soft fruit sector.
The migration figures showed a fall in net migration of 81,000 to 246,000 in the 12 months to March 2017, with an additional 33,000 leaving the country during the period. Most of these were EU citizens, with EU net migration falling by 51,000 to 127,000 within the period.
“The new figures released today on net migration are worrying evidence of the impact Brexit will have on EU nationals working in Britain,” said Laurence Olins, chairman of British Summer Fruits. “For the soft fruit industry, this confirms our own recent data, which shows that in some areas up to 20 percent of seasonal workers are leaving our farms and returning home due to the uncertainly of Brexit and the fall of the pound against the euro.
“In addition, recent data that we have collected reveals that nearly 80 percent of our growers have experienced early leavers and nearly 50 percent of growers put this down to Brexit. Brexit is already having a negative impact on our industry.” He called on the government to work faster to resolve the issue, for example by introducing a new Seasonal Workers Permit scheme.
Photo Caption: The soft fruit industry is concerned that a loss of EU migrants could lead to harvesting problems.
Excellent growing conditions have provided a bumper crop of UK soft fruit this season, but industry organisation British Summer Fruits warns that Brexit means that many growers are struggling to harvest the volume.
“We have been experiencing bumper crops across both strawberries and cherries this year,” said a spokeswoman for British Summer Fruits. Tesco is among retailers who have reported increased sales of British grown fruit from strawberries through to cherries and apricots, and has introduced larger pack sizes to help suppliers move unexpected large volumes of product.
However, growers are reporting a shortage of migrant workers available for fruit picking and grading. Jack Ward, chief executive of British Growers told journalists, “The labour situation has definitely tightened in the last 15 months. It is more difficult and more costly to recruit people. There are fewer returners and the age profile, generally, is going up amongst seasonal labour. I think younger people are more prepared to go and do other things.
“If you wound the clock back 10 years, it would have been the younger people who pioneered the idea of coming from Lithuania or Romania or Bulgaria or the Czech Republic to pick fruit.
“I think what you are finding is that a lot of businesses are spending a lot more time recruiting than they have in previous years. They have got to work a lot harder to attract people.” He added that high levels of employment (the highest since 1971) also meant that there are insufficient numbers of British workers to replace EU labour, even if they could be persuaded to pick the crops.
Trade organisation British Summer Fruits says that UK growers are set to harvest 4,500 tonnes of cherries this year, making this year the most productive season in more than 30 years.
However, despite this demand for home grown cherries still outstrips supply. The growth in production is reported to be down to dynamic young growers who have tapped into the burgeoning demand for British cherries. Record sales this year could exceed £32 million, with demand continuing to grow.
MD of cherry producer Haygrove, James Waltham, said, “Thanks to a combination of great varieties which are better suited to the UK climate, year-on-year performance of cherry orchards in general is far more consistent than it used to be, bringing greater yield and superior quality fruit.
“The British cherry season is also growing. Where it once lasted barely two months, the season now extends from early June until early September; thanks both to new varieties and modern growing systems, particularly the use of polytunnels.”
Tesco cherry buyer Tom Emmett commented, “Shoppers prefer British cherries as they’re considered to be amongst the best in the world – not only the richness of their taste but also the juiciness of their flesh and overall texture. Nothing beats a British cherry.
“It’s all about availability – if we can get British grown cherries then we know our shoppers will buy them. They are extremely popular and one of the absolute joys of summer.”
According to newspaper reports, Marks and Spencer could be looking to offer customers the chance to ‘pick their own’ strawberries after unveiling a trial at its flagship Marble Arch store in London just in time for Wimbledon.
In fact the installation was created by Bompas and Parr who worked with British Summer Fruits on an installation entitled ‘Fruit Fantasia’, which was in place for just a few days.
The proposed multi-sensory environment takes the principals of fashion retailing and brings it to the food environment, which is typically a purely functional space that has not undergone as much innovation as other retail streams. The concept is to bring the scents, tastes and sounds of a strawberry field to the shopping aisle.
Andy Mitchell, M&S Strawberry Expert said, “The start of the British strawberry season is one of the highlights of the summer calendar and it’s great to see that this very clever installation will really bring to life the many delicious qualities of our strawberries. We hope our customers enjoy it and are looking forward to seeing their reaction.”
Research conducted by The University of London revealed that the scent of strawberries can evoke feelings of summer and nostalgia and shoppers, will be able to taste and smell the strawberries as soon as they enter, through a berry mist that will emerge around the store.
Laurence Olins, Chairman of British Summer Fruits, added, “The soft fruit industry is at the forefront of innovation–plant breeders raise tens of thousands of seedlings each year and only about one per cent go forward for further trialling.”