Advanced production techniques ensure availability right through to November, well beyond hedgerow season

British blackberries

The British blackberry campaign is now in peak production, with senior agronomists announcing that this year’s season has produced a very high-quality crop of berries that are sweeter and larger than their bramble hedgerow counterparts.

British berry growers now grow “new generation” varieties that are more than twice the size of the standard hedgerow blackberry. They have been developed to be sweet, juicy and large—perfect for both snacking and cooking.

According to British Berry Growers, the industry body that represents 95 per cent of berries supplied to UK supermarkets, “shop-bought blackberries are carefully bred by expert pomologists, while hedgerow blackberries are made up of around 300 wild sub-species with many degrees of sweetness and bitterness”.

“As a result, even in good years, the quality of hedgerow harvesting is inconsistent compared to the high quality of shop-bought blackberries.”

Additionally, the British blackberry campaign extends well beyond hedgerow season thanks to special techniques used by growers. These include picking blackberries from plants that are just one year old to secure the most flavourful fruit, and placing plants in cold stores to artificially extend their winter dormancy and prolong fruiting once they are placed in the cropping fields.

“These techniques mean that British blackberries are available on supermarket shelves from April through to November. Customers look for larger berries – and thanks to skilled growers, they will be able to enjoy large, juicy blackberries even when the weather turns cold. The commercial British blackberry season now runs for 36 weeks of the year,” BBG said.

Data from Kantar and Chavereys show that annual UK retail sales of berries are at an all-time high of £1.7bn. It is estimated that the sector will contribute £3.18bn to the British economy over the next five years. Berries continue to be the most popular fruit item in shoppers’ baskets, with the largest market share (28 per cent) of all fruit sold in the UK.

BBG chairman Nick Marston commented: “Whether eating them in their natural state or using them in a recipe, you can enjoy blackberries that are consistent in their excellent taste and appearance thanks to the hard work and innovation of British growers.

“Blackberries have numerous health benefits—they’re particularly high in vitamin C, fibre, and vitamin K. Blackberries are also high in manganese, which helps boost bone development and the absorption of nutrients. There’s also research that they may contribute to brain health.

“Eating fresh, natural food is the basis of our Nature’s Vitamin campaign, which highlights the importance of getting fresh berries into your diet due to their many health benefits.”