To be named Retailer of the Year by the assocation whose members supply nearly all of the berries in UK supermarkets is no small feat.
Given the displays seen at some top retailers, the choice in 2023 by British Berry Growers might be surprising. But it is certainly warranted given the tremendous strides they’ve made year over year.
Co-op earned the honour courtesy of an incredible 22% growth in volume sales across all berry categories – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. They beat out Marks & Spencer (+13%) and Lidl (6.7%) to take this year’s crown.
“It’s been a fantastic year for the team, from being the first retailer to reveal it was providing 100% British strawberries for the King’s Coronation, to our ongoing support and close working relationships with our British growers and suppliers throughout the season,” said Mark Cloudy, Co-op buyer.
Nick Marston, Chairman of British Berry Growers, added: “Co-op’s commitment to buying British berries has been growing year on year. We are delighted to see Co-op ‘over-indexing’ on year-on-year growth. It’s an achievement we hope other retailers will emulate.”
Co-op’s success is hardly a one-off. Berry sales have been robust since the spring, boasting a 7.7% increase through September, according to data from Kantar International. That absolutely smashed other fruit categories, which grew by just 0.8%. British Berry Growers not only credits the quality of the fruits but also price promotions and premium own-label lines for “encouraging shoppers to trade up.”
British Berry Growers also reports that value sales are also up more than 11% for all berries, outpacing overall fruit by more than 3% in value.
Raspberries, because of the high cost of production and labour shortages, were the only category to show dropoffs. And even with the recent run, other berries aren’t immune from inflation or costs, which have soared by more than 30% over the past two years.
“Buying British over imported berries saves on food miles, and we know consumers want British where possible,” Marston said. “We’re delighted by the growth in sales and Co-op’s commitment to driving penetration in the category. It’s so important all our supermarkets get behind our growers.”