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Strawberries take centre stage at Wimbledon but we need to champion all local fruit growers

3 July 2013

With strawberries and cream the dish of the day at Wimbledon, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) calls for shoppers to stock up on seasonal local fruit of all types to give a boost to local food growers this summer.

Ian Woodhurst, senior food and farming campaigner for CPRE, says:

‘Home-grown strawberries are a great national success story [1] but the UK still only produces just 12% of the fruit we eat [2]. Our local fruit producers could benefit from more support: we need to get out and buy the best of local seasonal fruit, not just strawberries but blackberries, blueberries, currants, gooseberries and raspberries too. Berries are part of the English summer day, and buying them helps the rural economy and supports local growers to produce more.’

There are many good reasons to support locally produced English fruits:

-    Buying local seasonal fruit at markets, farmers markets, greengrocers, farm shops, pick your own farms and other local outlets will give a boost to your independent local food businesses and help keep the countryside thriving and diverse [3]

-    Locally-grown fruit in season is ideal for cutting down food transport especially air-freight, glasshouse heating and the pollution they generate: in this way local and seasonal work together. Short delivery times means fruit is at its best for freshness, taste and nutritional value. Fruit air-freighted in or trucked around the UK can be under-ripe or tired by the time it gets to customers

-    Fresh summer berry fruits are packed with goodness: they have high levels of vitamin C and other powerful anti-oxidants [4] as well as making up one or more of the five a day fruit and veg we should all be eating as a minimum [5]

Ian Woodhurst concluded:

‘Fresh local English summer fruit is as good as fruit can be. But fruit is delicate and the longer it travels, the bigger the risk it’ll end up as jam. Out of season, there’s less choice too. When it’s in season buying local English berries is a decision we can all make with our hearts, heads and taste buds.’

End

Notes to Editors

[1] According to Defra: ‘Soft fruit is one of the most buoyant sectors of UK commercial horticulture and production of strawberries has been expanding rapidly to meet rising consumer demand. Average year on year growth in supermarket sales of berries has been c.20% over the last 6 years and strawberries account for 78% of this market with a retail sales value of £372M in 2006 (data from Taylor Nelson Sofres). UK growers supply 85% of the market from May to October’ http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&Completed=0&ProjectID=14959

[2] According to Defra only 12% of the fruit we consume is home grown. See Basic Horticultural Statistics 2012 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/141608/defra-stats-foodfarm-landuselivestock-bhs-2012.pdf

[3] See CPRE, From field to fork: the value of England’s local food webs, 2012
http://www.cpre.org.uk/what-we-do/farming-and-food/local-foods/update/item/2896-local-food-is-recipe-for-economic-success

[4] See http://www.seasonalberries.co.uk/category/health-benefits

[5] In 2011 only 24% of men, 29% of women and 18% of children (aged 5 to 15 years) consumed the recommended 5 A DAY see Food Statistics Pocketbook 2012
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) fights for a better future for the English countryside. We work locally and nationally to protect, shape and enhance a beautiful, thriving countryside for everyone to value and enjoy. Our members are united in their love for England’s landscapes and rural communities, and stand up for the countryside, so it can continue to sustain, enchant and inspire future generations. Founded in 1926, President: Sir Andrew Motion, Patron: Her Majesty The Queen. www.cpre.org.uk

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