SUPERMARKETS are racing each other to get the first English strawberries of the season on to their shelves.

Waitrose has declared itself the winner with its produce grown in glasshouses in Chichester arriving in-store yesterday but Tesco is close on its heels with its strawberries, also grown in West Sussex, arriving today.

The growers are putting the early ripening down to the mild winter, meaning the fruit is ready for sale a week earlier than last year, coinciding with the predicted warmer weather this weekend.

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Waitrose's strawberry buyer Nicki Baggott said: "English strawberries are an inherent part of spring and summertime celebrations so it's a real treat to be tucking into them earlier than usual.

Simon Mandelbaum, Tesco's strawberry buyer, said: "We are a nation of strawberry-lovers who cannot get our hands on the English crop quick enough and this year will be no exception - we are expecting a mad rush."