A new trademarked blueberry variety and brand from berry breeders CPM Retail and Soloberry will be unveiled in Sainsbury’s stores tomorrow (10 February).
The surprise launch of Early Blue was announced at a Future Lab session at Fruit Logistica by the company’s supply chain director Rachel Montague-Ebbs.
She said: “We see the development of club varieties or brands such as [raspberry variety] Adelita and [apple brand] Pink Lady as the only way to prevent blueberries from being commoditised. And, we believe growers should be paid a higher price for producing this premium product.
“We want Early Blue to be recognised across the berry industry. We want brand loyalty, and we will officially launch Early Blue to growers at Fruit Attraction this autumn.”
Early Blue, which has been developed by the Oz Peach breeding programme, can be picked as early as the first few weeks in January from production in southern Morocco. A total of 250 hectares of production is centred across Spain and Morocco, with volumes set to reach 250 tonnes this year.
This is expected to rise to between 500 and 1,000 tonnes over the next few years, according to CPM Retail technical director, Tom Rogers.
Montague-Ebbs said that Early Blue appears on own-label Sainsbury’s packs as a trademarked variety, but noted that there is more appetite for brands in Asia. The company plans to roll out the brand globally as it progresses, she confirmed.