Chris Rose - Asplins Producer Organisation

"I can’t remember a year when things have been so bleak going into the season"

Despite the recent sunshine, the weather in England has been pretty gloomy, leading to a delay in the strawberry harvest.

“Glasshouse crops are slower than normal, and berries from tunnels won’t start until next month,” explains Chris Rose, COO of Asplins Producer Organisation. “There are some strawberries coming from The New Forest, but growers are not heating glasshouses or tunnels due to the cost. Only those with biomass boilers are heating the tunnels.”

As a result, volumes of UK strawberries on the market are very low at the moment, this may not be a bad thing as there are still a lot of Spanish imports around as they are also running later.

“The late start may cause problems later in the spring, though, as the crop usually catches up, and we will see big volumes. Starting two-week later rarely means a two-week later end to the early season. It may also disrupt the normal south-to-north supply pattern.”

The main English strawberry season would usually starts at the beginning of May, but this year it is looking like it will be towards the end of the month.

Labour has long been an issue for UK growers, and this year is no different.

“This year, we have the numbers, but the productivity of the pickers will be a challenge,” according to Chris. “This combined with an increase in the minimum wage will make picking more expensive. The labor we now get in the UK is from many different countries, and people speak many different languages. Some come over with no idea of what is expected of them.”

Before the Ukrainian conflict, 60% of the UK’s seasonal labor came from that country.

“Margins are wafer-thin if they exist at all, and this year it will be even tougher, many growers will stop producing. We saw a drop in demand last year as more people went away on holiday when Covid restrictions were lifted, we also have the cost-of-living squeeze to contend with. We are hoping that a sharp dip this year will be followed by a sharp bounce back next year. I can’t remember a year when things have been so bleak going into the season.”

For more information:
Chris Rose
Asplins Producer Organisation
Tel.: +44 1795 594811

Publication date:

Receive the daily newsletter in your email for free | Click here

Other news in this sector:

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber

You are using software which is blocking our advertisements (adblocker).

As we provide the news for free, we are relying on revenues from our banners. So please disable your adblocker and reload the page to continue using this site.

Click here for a guide on disabling your adblocker.