Larger, tasty strawberries that offer 20 per cent saving on labour and almost no wastage demonstrate that the benefits of breeding extend far beyond yield.
Flavour and nutritional content can also be increased to improve profitability and meet health challenges. This is the subject of the next Agri-Tech East event on 22nd February.
Abi Johnson of NIAB EMR says that the new variety of strawberry ‘Malling Centenary’, launched recently, has saved one Kent grower £3,500 per hectare in one season.
She says: “The new strawberry provides the same yield per hectare as the industry stalwart Elsanta, but it has a sweeter flavour and is larger. It is easier and faster to pick, is more consistent in quality and has a longer shelf life.
“These qualities combine to reduce labour costs and make it more desirable to the supermarkets,” Johnson explains. “The market for strawberries is large and increasing; it is currently worth over £300 million, and one leading supermarket told me that strawberries were their biggest seller in terms of value.”
The event ‘Nutritious and Delicious – Innovations for Value-Added Crops’ will be held on 22nd February at the Institute of Food Research, Norwich Research Park, Colney Lane, Norwich, NR4 7UG.