Brits urged to gorge on strawberries to save tonnes from being destroyed

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BATTIPAGLIA, ITALY - MAY 13: Strawberries already picked placed in boxes on May 13, 2020 in Various Cities, Italy. Italy was the first country to impose a nationwide lockdown to stem the transmission of the Coronavirus (Covid-19), and its restaurants, theaters and many other businesses remain closed. (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)
There is a surplus of strawberries this year (Picture: Getty)

Brits have been urged to eat as many strawberries as they can in order to stop tonnes being destroyed after the coronavirus pandemic caused a drop in demand.

The cancellation of summer events due to the lockdown has caused a surplus to build up, with 132,000 tonnes of strawberries produced in a typical year, the Financial Times reports.

Around 15,000 tonnes of raspberries are also normally supplied in the same period.

Strawberries are popular at weddings and other events held outside, including the Wimbledon tennis tournament which did not take place this year.

Wimbledon alone accounted for 33 tonnes of strawberries that were devoured last year.

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A farmer shows strawberries before packing them after harvesting in Srinagar on May 15, 2020. (Photo by Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP) (Photo by TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP via Getty Images)
A farmer shows strawberries before packing them after harvesting (Picture: Getty)

National Farmers Union president Minette Batters said: “It’s not just Wimbledon, it’s all the big sporting events.

“Formula One, cricket Test matches, football, they are huge outside events and all are cancelled.

“For caterers and the wholesale trade, that market has just gone.”

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The lockdown has also led to an oversupply of milk and dairy products.

But strawberries are causing a more urgent problem because they are highly perishable and need to be consumed quickly.

Manor Farm Fruits owner Elaine Clarke hopes a “strawberry drive-through” can help get rid of them.

She has set one up at her farm in Staffordshire, adding: “Fruit is quite an emotive purchase, with families going around shopping together.”

Trade body British Summer Fruits will also help to shift the berries by doubling marketing this year.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed it was currently trying to find alternative routes for the fruit to get into the supply chain.

It added it would keep an eye on the situation and “assess whether further intervention is required to support growers”.

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