A new variety of sumptuous strawberry will be available across the country thanks to an innovative Sussex grower.

The Summer Berry Company has secured a deal with Tesco to sell the Malling Centenary strawberry, which is larger and sweeter than its predecessors.

This is a big coup for the Summer Berry Company, which has been farming since 1966 and is based near Colworth, a hamlet just outside Chichester,.

Here, strawberry production has benefited from the warmer South Coast climate, milder winter and recent sunshine.

David Kay, of the Summer Berry Company, said he was delighted to have agreed the deal with Tesco, and is pleased the new variety is not only even more appetising, but also gives shoppers an extra day’s freshness.

He added: “Despite the very poor weather recently, our location on the Chichester plain combined with state-of-the-art glasshouse technology always allows us to grow the sweetest of early fruit.

“Our ability to use assimilation lighting, which mimics the sun, enables the growers to top up low background light levels ensuring that our fruit is juicy and full of sweetness for our customers to enjoy.”

The Summer Berry Company has 400 acres of polytunnels and 60 acres of glasshouses in Chichester.

The first of its Malling Centenary strawberries hit the Tesco shelves a couple of weeks ago.

Tesco berry buyer Laura Mitchell said: “It may still seem some way off but the arrival of the first British strawberries of the year means that spring is just around the corner.

“We are a nation of strawberry-lovers who cannot get our hands on the British crop quickly enough and the first offerings are always extremely popular.

“We will have more than ever before at this early stage in the season, with volume increasing greatly throughout March.

“Shoppers will have an added bonus too, as the variety we have selected will give them an added day’s freshness and help them cut down on food waste.”

The Malling Centenary replaces the Elsanta strawberry, which has been widely used in the industry for many years.