British berries are literally off the official sweetness scale and will be the best in years following the warm spring, experts have said writes Ed Southgate.

Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries will all be sweeter thanks to a warm April, officials say.

Berry Gardens, the UK's leading berry production group, say crops are up to ten on the Brix scale - which measures sugar and minerals.

Produce must reach a minimum of seven to hit supermarket shelves and officials they are scoring much higher than previous years.

Soft fruit grower of 20 years Anthony Snell said all berries including strawberries and blackberries are set for a bumper year in quality.

Mr Snell and his wife Christine farm just under 500 acres of land near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, and supplies for major supermarkets.

Their farm grows 1,000 tonnes of premium strawberries and more than 300 tonnes of raspberries, alongside blackberries and blueberries.

He is also a board director at Berry Gardens, the UK's leading berry production group, and Chairman of the National Farmer's Union West Midlands Horticulture Board.

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He said: "Levels have been quite a bit higher this year.

''We got the planting in at the right time and we had a warmer April so the plants have grown really well.

"We are very impressed by the quality and flavour of the strawberries at the moment.

"Last year was a bit of a cool spring but this year has been a nice warm Spring so we are at a better quality.

"The season started on time which means the berries are looking very good and high quality - we are positive about that.

"I am hopeful the season will be a positive one. People do really understand that healthy fruits are really really important."

He added that British support for locally-grown soft fruits is above what he has ever seen and that "demand is higher than supply at the moment."

"We are very positive about the very supportive British consumer'', he said.

"They are supporting our industry, our sector and they know that the standards of the British produce are considerably higher than everywhere else in the world.

"We have been very encouraged by the demand at the moment - it is very good.

"When you buy a punnet of strawberries you will see the variety, where it came from and who grew it.

"People like buying local. They recognise the variety that they like and they recognise growers that they like. It's good especially if it's local."

He hopes the popularity for British berries is a long-lasting trend.

"When we produce the right amount you get more from the local area," he added.

He said the crops can also be "very positive" for the immune system in fighting the coronavirus.

Sales from his online British Frozen Fruits shop showed "huge growth" of 30-40 per cent this year during the virus.

They are currently recruiting pickers from home and abroad.

Mr Snell said the biggest challenge with recruiting UK-pickers is that they do not know when they will return to work after being furloughed so cannot guarantee commitment.