Kent strawberry grows from strength to strength

  • Posted by: frangallwey
  • Category: News

Malling Centenary, a strawberry variety developed in Kent is being seen as a game changer for the industry.

It’s been predicted that the 2018 strawberry season will have seen 59 million Malling Centenary plants cultivated – an increase of 15 million on last year. The variety was developed at NIAB EMR in East Malling.

First released in 2013, Malling Centenary is a product of the first tranche of the East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club, funded by a consortium including: BerryGardens Growers Ltd, SoloBerry Ltd (formerly CPM Retail Ltd), Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (formerly HDC), East Malling Services Ltd, European Strawberry Nurseries Association, Mack Ltd., Meiosis Ltd and DEFRA.

Mario Caccamo, Managing Director of NIAB EMR said: “Named to celebrate a century of fruit science and innovation at East Malling Research, Malling Centenary is a fabulous tasting strawberry and a very strong performer for the growers.

“The commercial success of the variety is now helping to retain world-class science here in Kent.”

Malling Centenary is commercially protected thanks to it having Plant Variety Rights (PVR), enforceable across the EU and around the world. The PVR, effectively a patent, protects the rights of NIAB EMR as the breeder and financially supports the breeding of new varieties and research.

NIAB EMR’s commercial partnership with Meiosis Ltd, who manage the collection of PVR royalties worldwide, has been at the heart of the variety’s growth.

Mark Coxeter, Chief Executive of Meiosis, based at Bradbourne House on the East Malling Estate, said: “The success of Malling Centenary is the result of growers and supermarket buyers recognising it offers great taste, a regular conical shape, good skin, and firmness of the flesh, and strong shelf life. That can only be achieved through investment in breeding programmes.”

Listed by all UK supermarkets, Malling Centenary is a favourite with strawberry growers  because it yields more than 95% class 1 fruit, which is significantly higher than the previous market leader Elsanta, which can be as low as 71%.

Malling Centenary also beats Elsanta when it comes to picking costs as the low waste means picking is 13 pence per kilo cheaper compared to the other varieties.