Blackberry sales are on the rise in the UK as new, improved varieties and a growing awareness of the fruit’s health benefits drive category growth.
Britons spent £51m on blackberries in the past year, an increase of 8 per cent on the previous 12 months.
A key reason for this rise in popularity is the new varieties of blackberries that have been bred in recent years. These new berries along with advanced growing techniques have combined to extend the blackberry season and guarantee fruit quality, making the blackberries on shelf in supermarkets now almost unrecognisable from their hedgerow counterparts.
What’s more, there is a growing recognition of the extensive health benefits of blackberries. They are a rich source of vitamin C – an important antioxidant which protects cells from damage and strengthens the immune system.
And the fruit is well known to maintain healthy skin by playing a role in the production of collagen which keeps it smooth and elastic.
Blackberries have also been linked to reducing inflammation, preventing weight gain, keeping hearts healthy and boosting recovery of muscles after intense exercise.
Nick Marston, chairman of British Summer Fruits, the industry body that represents 95 per cent of berries supplied to UK supermarkets said: “The blackberry industry has grown 8 per cent this year, and looking at our past data and current industry insights we are predicting a boom in blackberry popularity amongst Brits in the coming years.
“This can be attributed to the huge difference in quality between shop bought versus hedgerow-foraged blackberries – testament to the hard-work, innovation and modernisation of our British growers.
“The health benefits of blackberries are also becoming better documented – which is helping to boost the berries’ popularity still further. This forecast, if correct, will continue to boost the wider berry industry which is already worth a huge £1.7bn to the British economy.”
Dr Emma Derbyshire, Public Health Nutritionist and adviser to British Summer Fruits explained: “Blackberries look and taste fantastic this time of year – their gorgeous deep purple colour is caused their high levels of flavonoids, which have the potential to exert powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
“They are packed with nutrients and fibre and eating just 10 can contribute towards one of your five-a-day.”
British Summer Fruits has developed a range of recipes and serving suggestions to highlight the versatility of fresh blackberries as a snack and ingredient, which are available at the Love Fresh Berries website.