CPRE champions local fruit growers

Strawberries collected at the annual Tiptree Strawberry Race

Strawberries collected at the annual Tiptree Strawberry Race - Credit: Archant

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has called on shoppers to stock up on seasonal local fruit of all types to boost local growers this summer.

“Home-grown strawberries are a great national success story but the UK still only produces just 12% of the fruit we eat. Our local fruit producers could benefit from more support,” said senior food and farming campaigner Ian Woodhurst.

“We need to get out and buy the best of local seasonal fruit, not just strawberries but blackberries, blueberries, currants, gooseberries and raspberries too. Berries are part of the English summer day, and buying them helps the rural economy and supports local growers to produce more.”

The CPRE says that buying local seasonal fruit at markets, farmers markets, greengrocers, farm shops, pick your own farms and other local outlets will give a boost to independent local food businesses and help keep the countryside thriving and diverse.

It also points out that short delivery times means fruit is at its best for freshness, taste and nutritional value. Fruit air-freighted in or trucked around the UK can be under-ripe or tired by the time it gets to customers

“Fresh local English summer fruit is as good as fruit can be. But fruit is delicate and the longer it travels, the bigger the risk it’ll end up as jam. Out of season, there’s less choice too. When it’s in season buying local English berries is a decision we can all make with our hearts, heads and taste buds,” said Mr Woodhurst.

According to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), soft fruit is one of the most buoyant sectors of UK commercial horticulture and production of strawberries has been expanding rapidly to meet rising consumer demand.

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According to a study, average year on year growth in supermarket sales of berries has been around 20% over the last six years and strawberries account for 78% of this market with a retail sales value of £372million in 2006, and UK growers supply 85% of the market from May to October

However, according to DEFRA, only 12% of the fruit we consume is home grown.