Berry Yearbook 2016 - page 6

challenges, andmitigate the potential
increased cost to their operations by
employing every business strategy
available, whether varieties grownor
growing systems employed”.
Returninghis thoughts to strawberries,
Nicholas explained that the 2015 season
started about twoweeks later than2014,
having experienced relatively low
accumulatedday degrees in the pre-
seasonbuildup, and themain strawberry
seasonpeaking about aweek later than
normal. “We are seeing an impact from
early varieties such as Flair, the expanding
glasshouse production area, andwe are
seeing a greater use of telescopic tunnels,
tunnel doors and internal tunnel baffles
advancing cropdevelopment to further
extend the early season,” he observed.
“The 66,451 tonnes producedby British
Summer Fruitmemberswas a record (the
last being2011) with the area being
grownbeingmuch the same. Fruit values
were similar to2014, but a near 8%
improvement wasmade in the volume of
Class 1 fruit we harvested and sold”.
“We are seeing increasing contributions
fromnew, improved varieties being
grown in substrate systems, inmoves
towards table topproduction (especially
in the South andMidlands), and the
gradual loss of mainstay varieties like
Elsanta and Sonata, which are at risk of
being ‘too small-fruited anduneconomic
togrow’ as the LivingWage arrives,” he
said.
Nicholas considered that the new June
bearer varieties emerging from around
the breeding stables in theUK and
Europe have yet to reveal their full
potential, citingMallingCentenary and
Driscoll Rosalie® that showgreat promise.
Whilst recognising the supply side of
the industry, Nicholaswas quick to
acknowledge the amazing support given
to the industry by themultiple retail
sector, and the ever-increasing role played
by the emerging ‘discounters’ and
convenience stores, inmakingmore and
more berries available todifferent types of
consumers, all of which canbe built on in
the future to further develop themarket.
“We are also seeing the impact pack
size is havingonuptake and sales,” said
Nicholas. “In addition to the traditional
400gmpunnet, we are seeing increasing
use of the 650 and750gmpunnet, all in
direct response to consumer requirement,
andwe have also employed a 1kgof
strawberries inwhat is termed ‘flush
management’ (periods of very high
supply)
NicholasMarston is convinced that the
ever-bearer strawberry season from July to
Septemberwas the likely areawhere real
growthwas possible in the future. “This
part of the seasonwith a berry has a
lower level of sale currently andwith a
berry that has such a highmarket
penetration (77%) I would suggest
greater tonnages couldbe sold, as
increasing the demand for June bearers
in the peakweeks of production ismore
difficult todowithout discounting the
product,” he added.
Nicholas reported that raspberry
volumeswere up3% in2015 (and
growing), a seasonof ‘steady sales’ with
the national growing area increasing,
with50%nowgrown in substrate (coir in
pots). Today 100%of the raspberry crop
is covered. “Varieties play an important
role, withDriscoll’sMaravilla still No.1 in
BerryGardens production, andnew
arrivals such as EV Ltd’s Berry Jewel (large
fruited) andDriscoll’s Riviera® (an early
primo-cane) reveal promise” Nicholas said.
The development of raspberries follows
a similar trajectory to strawberries in the
evolutionof berry growing, as do
blackberries andblueberries. Growthwill
come from the development of improved
eating experiences for consumers,
maximum availability of choice inpack
2015 SEASON
REVIEW
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