The blueberry harvest is underway in the UK, Chris Rose, COO at Asplins Producer Organisation, said they could have started last week in Kent but held off until this week.
“We held off due to labour costs and availability, instead of doing small selective pickings we decided to wait and just do a bigger pick. This will not affect the shelf life or quality of the fruit as it goes straight to the retailers.”
Chris expects a steady build up of fruit over the next 2-3 weeks as volumes reach a peak, they will continue with different varieties through the summer and expect to end in with Scottish fruit in September.
“Demand is reasonable, but growers in general are concerned about the rising cost of living affecting demand for soft fruit. Whereas strawberries and raspberries are seen as a British summer fruit, blueberries are not as they have traditionally been imported 52 weeks of the year.”
Poland and Southern Europe can produce with very competitive prices and although the UK cannot supply year-round there is scope to be self-sufficient through the summer months.
“Blueberry consumption is still growing in the UK, but in order be more competitive UK growers would need to harvesting with machines to make it cost effective.”