Stores race to sell strawberries

Supermarkets are racing each other to get the first English strawberries of the season on to their shelves.

The mild weather has allowed the first strawberries to ripen
The mild weather has allowed the first strawberries to ripen

Waitrose has declared itself the winner with its produce grown in glasshouses in Chichester arriving in-store today but Tesco is close on its heels with its strawberries, also grown in West Sussex, arriving tomorrow.

The growers are putting the early ripening down to the mild winter, meaning the fruit is ready for sale a week earlier than last year, coinciding with the predicted warmer weather this weekend.

Waitrose's strawberry buyer Nicki Baggott said: "English strawberries are an inherent part of spring and summertime celebrations so it's a real treat to be tucking into them earlier than usual.

"If the milder temperatures continue as predicted, we're set to see a bumper harvest so make sure you've got your cream at the ready in preparation."

Simon Mandelbaum, Tesco's strawberry buyer, said: "We are a nation of strawberry-lovers who cannot get our hands on the English crop quick enough and this year will be no exception - we are expecting a mad rush.

"Good levels of sunshine and unseasonably warm weather so far in March have been key for our growers, giving them an early crop."

A spokeswoman for Morrisons said it would have English strawberries in store by next weekend.