By Karen Peattie

BERRY specialist Angus Soft Fruits has seen sales of its premium Ava Berries brand ncrease by a record 20 per cent this year despite lingering Covid-19 restrictions for shoppers.

The Arbroath-based firm sold over 3.6 million punnets of its Ava strawberries during the 2021 season, up nearly 700,000 punnets on last year.

Ava also upweighted its marketing activity to raise awareness among consumers during the season, including a partnership with McQueens Dairies that saw strawberries delivered with milk to doorsteps.

In addition, it linked up with Edinburgh baker Mademoiselle Macaron to create a luxury strawberry macaron.

The Ava varieties have been bred through Angus Soft Fruits’ breeding programme and are grown by an exclusive group of growers on Scotland’s north-east coast with “flavour, yield, and sustainability in mind, ensuring the best berries are produced every time”.

Jill Witheyman, head of marketing at Ava Berries, said: “We always anticipated these last couple of years would be tougher with people under restrictions and potentially less inclined to explore the supermarket shelves.

“However, we have been pleasantly surprised to see the love for our strawberries continue to grow. We really do believe Ava Berries are the best on the market.”

Ms Witheyman noted that plans are in progress to expand marketing activity across the UK next year.

Angus Soft Fruits was established in 1994 to sell fruit directly to retailers. Its breeding programme enables new berries to be brought to market that have improved flavour, appearance, shelf life, disease resistance and yield than other varieties.