British blackberry production will have almost doubled by the end of the season while sales have risen by 44 per cent, new figures from trade body British Summer Fruits (BSF) predict.
Growers have so far produced 1,123 tonnes to date, compared to 808t this time in September 2013. By the end of the season, industry forecasts expect the crop to reach 2,000t – an 82 per cent rise on the total produced in 2013.
The growth is driven by new ‘sweet-eating’ varieties that have allowed blackberries to enter the snack market, BSF said.
According to the trade body, the industry is anticipating a “whole new market” for blackberries, which are now being bred to be eaten straight from the punnet so consumers see them as snacks. This adds to the traditional blackberry market where people use them in recipes.
“Our growers have seen the market grow substantially in recent years, by more than 70 per cent in the last decade. They are now developing their offer to include sweeter, snacking varieties which will really transform sales and accelerate growth of the category,” said BSF chairman Laurence Olins.
“British consumers are some of the luckiest in the world when it comes to blackberries as the UK is at the forefront of new technologies and breeding methods, resulting in exceptional quality, flavourful fruit.”
Grower Robert Pascall, of Clockhouse Farm in Maidstone, said he has produced 170t over 11 hectares this season. “Thanks to the development of new sweeter varieties, we have increased our plantings as we’re confident that the market will grow and grow,” he said.
“We’ve seen a considerable increase in consumers buying blackberries and they’re going down really well. The introduction of new varieties this year has started the ball rolling and we’re hoping to grow increasingly more fruit as the years go on.”
The blackberry season began a month earlier than usual with early fruit hitting shelves in mid-August, and is reaching its peak at the moment.