The UK fruit industry has performed well over the past five years despite the challenging dynamics and difficult trading conditions in the United Kingdom's fresh produce market.
Industry growth has been driven by increased production, quality and prices in the soft fruit segment. Demand and prices for high-value soft fruits such as strawberries have increased particularly strongly, which has benefited the industry in the five years through 2012-13.
Brands have sought to drive consumption by positioning fruit as an on-the-go snack, with Princes and Del Monte entering the snack pots market. With four in five (80%) eating fruit as a snack at home and less than half (44%) doing so out of home, there is a need to increase out of home snacking occasions.
Advertising that promotes new recipe suggestions should find favour with female consumers, who are most likely to use fruit in more than five different ways.
Two in five consumers claim to regularly eat five a day. On-pack information is helping to educate consumers. Tesco has introduced "1 of 5 a day" labelling on 700 healthier products of its own-label range, a strategy which could be easily adopted by the other retailers.
Growers are operating in a difficult environment. Harvests are vulnerable to weather conditions, which are unpredictable and increasingly volatile. Moreover, farmers must compete with imports, which tend to be cheaper compared with UK produce, due to higher standards of production in the UK and escalating farmgate and energy costs.
Moreover, retailers, who are mainly concerned about prices, have the power to dictate the terms and conditions of contracts. As a result, growing fruits and vegetables is no longer profitable for farmers in the UK.
This has caused market consolidation and will continue to threaten production in the future, in addition to the UK's ability to be self-sufficient. Although Britons want to support local trade, their priority is currently value.
In terms of value, the most significant product grown by the industry is strawberries. Strawberries account for an estimated 46% of industry revenue in 2012-13, up from five years earlier.
The season during which strawberries can be grown in the United Kingdom has been extended from six weeks per year during summer to a period of eight months from mid-April to mid-December.
The use of polytunnels, which allow a warmer and more protected environment, has supported growth in the cultivation of strawberries. British strawberries primarily service the domestic market as they are a soft fruit and can easily be bruised in transit.
For more information on the UK fruit market, see the latest research: UK Fruit Market
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