Scotland’s leading blueberry growers are calling for a concerted marketing effort to highlight the seasonality and quality of the British crop, which faces increasing competition from South America.
As the first of this season’s blueberry crop comes on stream, growers say consumers are used to buying the fruit for breakfast year-round and do not discriminate between Peruvian berries, which are always on the shelves, and the more flavoursome seasonal fruit now widely grown in Scotland.
James Porter, whose first punnets of blueberries are now on sale in his East Scryne farm shop, said the industry is calling for British Summer Fruits, which represents growers and supermarkets to do more to help consumers differentiate between fresh local fruit and imported produce.
He said: “Supermarkets stock British strawberries during the summer season – they wouldn’t get away with importing from abroad.
“We’re now asking them to take a similar approach with blueberries.
“Scottish growers managed to find a window of opportunity with this crop and blueberries tick a lot of boxes for us as they come on stream towards the end of the summer, so extend the season for pickers, but it would be a brave grower who puts in more blueberries just now with concerns over returns and labour availability.”
Laurencekirk grower Ross Mitchell agreed. “We have built a strong industry in Scotland but we need more education on the quality and seasonality of what we’re producing,” he said. “I hope retailers will support a campaign for British and Scottish fruit as Covid has led people to focus on a healthy local diet.”