The first locally produced blueberries of the season are available from Belgian cooperative BelOrta, with volumes set to be available until mid-September 

Belgian cooperative BelOrta has announced the arrival of the first domestically grown blueberries, completing its full berry offering for the season.

“There is no better remedy for the drizzly weather than enjoying locally grown berries, such as blackberries, raspberries and blueberries,” the cooperative stated. “These have all been available again since Friday morning (24 May) with the sale of the first local blueberries.”

Aside from strawberries, blueberries remain the most popular berry in Belgium, but the entire category has seen an increase in consumption, bucking the general trend in fruit and vegetables.

BelOrta blueberries

In 2023, according figures from GfK, based on VLAM, a Belgian consumer would eat an average of just over 2.5kg of berries and strawberries per year, compared with just under 2kg a decade ago.

“The blueberry remains the most popular among the berries,” said Miguel Demaeght, division head of soft fruit sales at BelOrta. “On an annual basis we eat an average of 558g of this superfood. This popularity is not surprising. You can eat blueberries at any time of the day: for breakfast, as a snack or even included in dinner.

“The consumption of raspberries (average 164g) and blackberries (average 32g) is on the rise, but the consumption of blackberries in particular is lagging behind. This can partly be explained by the fact that these berries sometimes had a slightly sour taste.”

As such, blackberries have remained more popular with slightly older consumers, according to BelOrta, while raspberries are popular with under-40 year olds and families with children due to their sweetness.

However, thanks to the introduction of new varieties, Demaeght said, “the average blackberry has become a lot sweeter and more accessible to the general public”. 

Meanwhile, blueberries are popular with consumers across the board, the cooperative stated, as is local, sustainable production. Almost all BelOrta’s berries are available in both conventional and organic.

“Conversations with many consumers show that they prefer locally and sustainably grown berries over imported berries,” said Demaeght. “It is therefore very important that consumers continue to have the opportunity to choose locally. We therefore call on all partners in the distribution chain to do this. to support our local producers so that we can continue to enjoy our high-quality berries from our own soil in the future.” 

Thanks to the production of multiple varieties and the use of different cultivation systems, berry volumes can now be spread over a longer period, extending the period of availability for local berries. 

According to BelOrta, gooseberries are available until the beginning of August, blueberries until mid-September, raspberries till mid-October, blackberries until the end of November, and redcurrants until Christmas.