Berry Gardens Growers Limited has reported a record year with turnover exceeding £300m for the first time, ending the year at £318.7m, an increase of over 14% year-on-year.
“Our continued success and double-digit growth illustrates that our strategy of supplying the best varieties, underpinned by our co-operative structure, is a winning formula,” says Chairman Alastair Brooks. We are the only grower-owned berry and cherry marketing group in the sector and this gives us the ability to react swiftly in our dynamic market and maximise opportunities. As a co-operative, our policy is to return surpluses to our grower owners which enables them to invest in the most up-to-date production techniques. Our customers know that when they trade with Berry Gardens they are dealing directly with the growers and overseas partners and have the confidence that we will deliver the best quality produce.”
The early winter months of 2016 enjoyed strong trading with sales of imported and early British fruit racing ahead of last year. As the year progressed, the UK enjoyed higher than average sunshine hours that gave the home-grown season a good start. Favourable weather conditions, particularly in August and September, coupled with growers continued focus on high quality fruit, resulted in a new high level of sales during the British season.
Alastair concluded, “The British public’s love of berries and cherries continues to thrive and enjoy double-digit growth – we predict that this will continue for the foreseeable future, as new, better-eating varieties such as Driscoll’s™ Elizabeth® and Rosalie® increase production. The popularity of newer berries such as sweet eating blackberries continue to grow unabated, giving customers a wider selection to choose from. In addition, this year we expect to see the volume of British cherries substantially increase as the new plantings by several Berry Gardens growers over the last few years reach their maturity – following a colder and drier winter than last year the orchards have comfortably reached their chill hours and the signs are positive for a good cherry season.”
2016 Kantar figures show that the total berry market was valued at £1.18bn, representing an increase in value of 12.6% year-on-year; raspberries and blueberries experienced the highest value growth at 21% and 23.73% respectively. The number of households buying berries reached an all-time high of just under 84%. Although strawberries are relatively mature, last year market penetration increased by 2% to just under 80% of British households buying strawberries on average 13.6 times. The berry market continues to be the success story of the overall fruit market and achieved value growth of just over 5%, with apples and bananas losing value. Although UK cherry production overall was affected negatively by the weather in 2016, Berry Gardens increased its market share of British production by 15% to 65% – in some weeks over the summer Berry Gardens’ share exceeded 80%.